During the Great Freeze of February 1895, the weather was so cold that Curling became a popular pastime in parts of Essex and an Ice Carnival was held near Great Dunmow where people competed at winter sports. The weather had another great impact on Great Dunmow when, during the floods of June 1903, residents were forced to make use of their wash tubs (called Dolly Tubs) as make shift boats in order to float to the safety of higher ground. In 1975, Dunmow had its latest recorded snow fall when residents were surprised that the weather deposited 6 inches as late as 9th April.
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Great Dunmow was founded as a settlement in Roman times and stands on the ancient road that was called "Stane Street". After the Romans left Britain, the settlement continued and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Great Dunmow was granted its charter to hold a market in 1253 and went on to thrive, so that by the Middle Ages it was the venue of two different annual fairs and a major commercial centre for the wider countryside. Many of the town's listed buildings, including the 16th Century town hall, are testament to Great Dunmow's wealth during the Middle Ages. Great Dunmow is most well known, for its unique Flitch Trials. Since 1120, every 4 years, married couples are invited to stand before a jury made up of 6 bachelors and 6 maidens from the local area where they attempt to prove that they have not wished themselves 'un-wed for a year and a day'. The winners are decided by the jury and given a flitch (or side) of bacon and honored by being paraded through Great and Little Dunmow.
There have been some remarkable residents in Dunmow. Thomas Bowyer, a protestant townsman who refused to recant his faith in favor of Catholicism, was martyred in London in 1556 and Anne Line, a Catholic woman who hid a priest, was martyred in 1601 for so doing. Lionel Lukin (1742-1834), who invented the unsinkable lifeboat, tested his designs on the Doctor's pond in the village. Sir George Beaumont (1753-1857), an amateur painter and patron of the arts, gave a bequest that allowed for the foundation of the National Gallery in London, lived in Great Dunmow.