Essex

Dunmow Flitch Trials: 'Undying love' couples get their bacon

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Media captionDunmow Flitch Trials: Couples prove their love before a special court

Married couples have taken home the bacon after going on trial to prove their undying love for one another.

The Dunmow Flitch trials - a tradition going back at least to the 12th Century - were held earlier in Great Dunmow.

Couples have to convince a jury of six maidens and six bachelors they "had not wished themselves unmarried for a year and a day".

Ralph and Helen White, who have been married for 36 years, were among those who won the prize.

Image caption Couples are made to swear to tell the truth before their trial begins

During the trials, held every four years and alluded to by Geoffrey Chaucer in the Wife Of Bath's tale, couples are cross-examined under oath about their love.

If successful they win a "flitch" (side) of bacon.

Mr and Mrs White, who live in north London, said they believed working hard and spending time together had made them closer, adding they rarely argued.

Taking home the bacon

This year's four successful flitch-winning couples were:

  • Mr Ralph and Helen White of London
  • Mr Christopher Atkinson and Mrs Meredith Atkinson-Wood
  • Mr Mohammed Mizan Sabur and Ms Emma Marcus
  • Dr Geoff and Mrs Caroline Parkes

A gammon was awarded to Mr Jonathan and Mrs Caroline Spooner

"We're great believers in avoiding that," said Mr White, 61. "Some people say, 'oh you need the occasional row to clear the air' but I don't believe that myself, because it can become an everyday habit."

Image caption Christopher Atkinson and Meredith Atkinson-Wood in the dock defending their love

Mrs White, 57, added: "It's very, very rare that we argue - it's never now."

The couple said they would be having a cup of tea to celebrate, after they were interrogated by "barristers" in a packed marquee-cum-courtroom.

After just 15 minutes, the jury unanimously found Mr and Mrs White were telling the truth when they said they were enjoying wedded bliss.

Image caption Judge Dave Monk ascends to his seat to dispense 'love justice'

Having been carried on a bench to the town square, the couple knelt on pointed stones as Judge and BBC Essex presenter Dave Monk passed sentence on them, saying: "For this is the custome of Dunmow well known, Tho' the pleasure be ours, the bacon's your own."

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