Pig Face Day, Avening, Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire folklore mystical times blog

Pig Face Day is a medieval themed feast & celebration which commemorates Queen Matilda (wife of William the Conqueror) as she consecrated the church in Avening in 1068. This has been the only church in England to have been commissioned by a Queen of England. The reasons as to why Queen Matilda did this was due to her advances being rejected by Brittric of Avening, Lord of Gloucester, with whom she fell in love with. Brittric, who had the nickname Snow as he was very pale, was already married but Matilda kept trying to seduce Brittric and with each rejection, she became revengeful. She exacted her revenge on him when she became Queen by having the King dispossess Brittric and then imprisoning him at Worcester gaol where he was to die. It was said his death sounded as though he had been poisoned but this was never stated as a fact.

In her later years, Queen Matilda was said to feel guilty about her actions so tried to absolve her guilt by funding the church in Avening. When the church was completed, Queen Matilda gave the builders a feast with a pigs head to celebrate the building being built.

The Pig Face Day was held bi-annually and on the nearest Sunday to the 14th September. Villagers would attend a hog roast feast in the village hall after a church service. A procession would go from the church to the village hall, with a pigs head on a platter. People attending the celebration would wear medieval clothing and have entertainment medieval style in the form of jugglers, musicians and jesters. From all accounts the celebration were stopped then revived in 2009. but numbers dwindled around 2014. If you check the Avening website, it looks as though the celebration still happens- https://www.avening-pc.gov.uk/pigface%20day.htm