We had a great time visiting our friends Nick and Maureen in Berkshire, near Newbury. We visited Dunnington Castle, then wandered around Newbury and poked our noses into the town museum, only to spend at least an hour there marveling at all the weird and wonderful things in their collection. My favourite things were an old trunk with what must be the world's most complicated lock system, this bizarre licking man on an outside support beam, and a story about a coat:
On 25 June 1811, for the first time ever fleece was turned into a finished coat within the same day. The stimulus for this action was a £1,000 wager struck between Sir John Throckmorton and his friends. At 5am two Southdown sheep were sheared by Mr Francis Druett. The wool was then washed, stubbed, rowed, spun, and woven into cloth by Mr John Coxeter and his workers. This was then dressed, scoured, fulled, tented, raised, sheared, and dyed a damson colour. At 4pm the cloth was finished.
Mr John White and nine of his men then made up the hunting coat, finishing at 6:30pm. Sir John Throckmorton sat down to dinner at 8pm in the presence of 40 gentlemen. The entire proceedings took 13 hours 10 minutes, and attracted 5,000 spectators who afterwards consumed the two unfortunate sheep and 120 gallons of strong beer.