Collections at Coughton Court
Coughton Court is home to over 2000 historic items, many of which can be seen on a visit. Take a closer look at two of the most important items in the collection – the Throckmorton coat and the Tabula Eliensis.
The property is now closed for winter.
The property is now closed for winter. We look forward to welcoming you back on 10 February 2024.
The Throckmorton Coat
In 1811, Sir John Throckmorton, 5th Baronet of Coughton Court, entered a bet to prove that a coat could be made in just one day – from sunrise when the wool was on the backs of two sheep, to sunset when the brown tailored coat rested on his shoulders.
A sure bet
He laid down a 1,000-guinea bet – equating to around £64,000 today. Luckily, Sir John won and wore it to dinner that night. You can see the very coat on display in the Saloon along with a portrait of him wearing it. These pieces of history are presented alongside family chattels, books and photographs.
Recreating the historic coat
To celebrate the 600-year anniversary of the Throckmorton family at Coughton, a twenty-first-century version of the coat was created and presented to Mrs McLaren-Throckmorton’s grandson, Magnus Birch.
Inspired by the collection
Created by Herefordshire-based textile artists Rebecca Griffiths and Victoria Geary, who run the company 'Pretty Rubbish', the coat was made from a variety of fabrics and recycled material, taking inspiration from the intricate family history and visual information gathered from Coughton Court.
Every design on the new coat comes from an idea, design or image found in the house including lace detail found in family portraits, patterns found on books and wallpaper as well as designs from the dole gate and the family crest.
They used the traditional tailcoat idea and incorporated ideas like 'hidden pockets' and encased buttons. These details reflect the Thockmorton family’s commitment to Catholicism as demonstrated in the house by the numerous priest holes.
The Tabula Eliensis
Discovered in a roof-space in 1900 by Sir William Throckmorton, the Tabula Eliensis is a protest document against the treatment of Roman Catholics who remained loyal to the Pope. It commemorates those recusants (Catholics who refused to attend the Church of England) who were imprisoned by the government.
A controversial cloth
It was made in England in 1596 during the reign of Elizabeth I, when religious tensions ran high with a series of plots to overthrow the Queen. Families such as the Throckmortons who lived at Coughton were seen as potential enemies of the State.
Made in secrecy
It’s not clear who made it, but the tabula would have been made in great secrecy, as their lives would have been at risk if they had been discovered. It was probably made by the artists of a similar cloth in Ely Cathedral. The cloth is over nine feet wide, formed by two pieces of canvas, and the whole surface is painted in oil.
Its purpose was to be displayed during Mass and was probably carried from house to house by an itinerant Catholic priest.
Identifying victims and culprits
Near the top of the cloth is a representation of Ely Cathedral, a city where many Catholics were imprisoned.
After the inscriptions are several heads in roundels. Those in blue are kings and those in brown are monks and clerics. Towards the bottom of the tabula one can make out the heads of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth.
The seven panels at the bottom contain the shields of the families who were imprisoned by the government. The shield of Thomas Throckmorton is in the fifth panel.
See the protest up close
Go back in time to a state of unrest and gaze upon the Tabula Eliensis in the Tower Room.
Explore the house and collections at Coughton Court, which has been home to the Throckmorton family for over six centuries and continues to be their home today.
The Throckmorton family created and manages the award-winning garden at Coughton. Highlights include the walled garden, lake, knot garden, vegetable garden, orchard and bog garden.
Twenty-one generations of the Throckmorton family have lived at Coughton since 1409. Over six centuries there are many stories to tell, including that of the gunpowder plot.
Caring for Coughton goes on all year round, much of it behind the scenes. Find out more about the work being done to protect and restore Coughton and its treasures.
Visit Coughton Court for family-friendly events and activities in the house and garden, including woodland walks and wildlife spotting.
The art and heritage collections we care for rival the world’s greatest museums. Learn more about the collection of paintings, decorative art, costume, books, household and other objects at historic places.
See the breadth of our collection of works of art, furniture and more: we care for around a million objects at over 200 historic places, there’s a surprise discovery around every corner.
Discover the stories behind some of the greatest artworks and artefacts looked after by the National Trust, as told in a dedicated book, 125 Treasures from the Collections of the National Trust.