The wonderfully odd Henry Jennings…..


Henry Jennings (1731 – 1819) was an obsessed collector who was deeply attached to his purchases. Once he acquired a beautiful statue of Venus and he insisted that it be placed at the head of his dinner table and attended by two liveried footmen.Ā Sculptures. Books, paintings, stuffed animals, precious stones were but a few of his obsessions. Not surprisingly, his expenditure frequently exceeded his income, with the result that he often found himself bankrupt, and forced to sell off collections in order to be released from jail.

Finally he discovered a way of breaking this vicious cycle: in 1816, when he was next imprisoned, Jennings decided not to part with his collection, but to settle down in jail, surrounded by his treasures for the rest of his life.

For Jennings, one drawback of ending his days behind bars was the prospect of receiving a conventional burial. He was horrified by the thought of physical decay and even kept an oven in his house for his own cremation so that he could be spared the indignity of slow disintegration. His regimen for keeping in good physical condition was strenuous. Three hundred times every morning and evening he flourished a heavy broad sword tipped with lead at both ends. He then mounted an artificial horse, made of leather and inflated by a pair of bellows, on which he took exactly 1000 gallops. An unfortunate side effect of this was an extreme bow-leggedness which, one observer remarked, made him appear to be walking sideways.


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