A Coughton Court story

When you can’t play Bingo or bet on football what do you do? Well, you bet on the technology of course. There is a saying that in any bet there is a fool and a thief. In other words, when two men make a bet and one of them has an advantage, the entire bet is not decent.

In our story, you could say Sir John Throckmorton was the fool, and Mr Coxeter had the edge. It was June 1811, and the two friends had attended a party, where they started to discuss the technology advances in the wool industry of their time. The debate was about the speed and efficiency the sector had reached.

The discussion became an argument which quickly turned into one of the most legendary bets in 19th century England. The rules of the bet were simple. Mr Throckmorton should sit to dinner at 8 o’clock wearing a brand new coat that would be created from the wool of 2 sheep that will be shared on the same day at 5 am.  And what was the wage? 1000 guineas, which perhaps doesn’t sound much, but it is actually about £70,000 in today’s worth.

As you can imagine, the bet became so big that ads appeared about it in the papers and more than 5000 people came to watch the event, which had also been commemorated in a painting.
The sheep were sheared at 5 am, and the bet began. By four o’clock, the wool had already been made into a cloth, and they had four more hours for the tailor (who had previously measured Throckmorton) to make the coat. He used 9 helpers to do the job in two hours, and before half six, Coxeter presented the Baronet with a new gentleman coat and won the bet.

Throckmorton was so amazed, he gave Coxeter a silver medal (and his money), and the coat was presented in an international exhibition and is presented today at Coughton Court along with the painting that commemorated the event. So why was Throckmorton the fool? Well, it seems that Me Coxeter not only researched the process before that dinner, but he also used his son as the weaver, and his son had already won a bet of that type before… (but it is still a great story, right?)

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