Welcome to Part 3 of my blog on Regency Wagers to coincide with publication of my Regency romance, Ice Angel …
On Saturday 21st June, I visited Coughton Court in Warwickshire.
Coughton Court is one of the finest Tudor houses in England and home to the Throckmorton family. The Throckmortons formed part of the circle of prominent Catholic families that refused to capitulate to Protestantism during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century and remain Roman Catholic to this day. Apart from the fine collection of paintings and furniture at Coughton, there are many reminders of the family’s turbulent past, including Catholic treasures, a double hiding-place (or priest hole) in the north east turret, and an exhibition showing the fascinating connections with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
But onto Coughton Court’s connection with Regency wagers .. 2009 marks the 600th anniversary of the Throckmorton family at Coughton Court and, as part of the celebrations, a special event took place on 21st June. It involved a modern re-enaction of the making of the legendary Throckmorton Coat.
On 25th June 1811, Sir John Throckmorton laid a bet for 1,000 guineas that a team of workers could attempt ‘making a coat from the wool which was on the sheep’s back at 5.00 am, before 9.00 at night, which was done before half past six’* The wager was won: the coat was completed between sunrise, when it was wool on the backs of two sheep, and sunset, when it was a fashionable cutaway coat worn by Sir John. The famous coat is now on display in the Saloon at Coughton.
In 2009, the idea was to celebrate the wager by the creation of a contemporary coat – based on the tailcoat style of the Throckmorton Coat – which would be worn by Mrs Clare McLaren-Throckmorton’s grandson, Magnus Birch, at the end of the day.
Textile artists Rebecca Griffiths and Victoria Geary, who run the company ‘Pretty Rubbish’, (www.prettyrubbish.org) were creating the modern garment from a variety of fabrics and recycled material, taking inspiration from the intricate family history and information gathered from the house.
So, did they manage to do it? Yes, they did! Here are the two coats, the 1811 Throckmorton coat and the 2009 coat, side by side.
And here’s Magnus Birch, Mrs. Clare McLaren-Throckmorton’s grandson, wearing the finished article, accompanied by the ladies from ‘Pretty Rubbish’
A fantastic day, and a very clever way to harness the spirit of the original wager. The 1811 coat and 2009 coat will remain on display together at Coughton Court. It’s well worth a visit to see the intricate detail and embroidery on the 2009 coat, as well as all the other attractions Coughton has to offer.
There are more photos from my visit to Coughton Court here
That’s the end of my three blogs on Regency wagers to coincide with the publication of Ice Angel, but no doubt I’ll be returning to the subject in the future!
* from Sir John Throckmorton’s Journal, 1811