A QUIRKY London-born Australian national has been crowned the new fool of a Lake District castle.

Abigail Collins tickled judges with her surreal version of the classic ballet Swan Lake; tiptoeing across the stage wearing traffic cones as ballet shoes.

Abi becomes the first ever female solo artist to take the crown which is awarded by the Castle's owners to commemorate its long-gone jester, Tom Fool, who lived there nearly 400 years ago.

Ms Collins pipped a strong field including local heroes Gacko from Barrow and Professor Pumpernickel from Carlisle, said organisers.


“All of our acts were superb this year but Abigail was just ahead of the rest with her wonderfully funny rendition of Swan Lake,” said Peter Frost-Pennington from Muncaster Castle.

“We had a truly international field of contestants, including two Australians and an American, as well as European themes which produced some brilliant audience participation.”

Abigail trained at the Royal Ballet as a child and is a co-founder of Australia's Sticky Planet Network which has involved devising and performing comic shows on streets and theatres across  Europe, Asia and Australia.

Other international performers at the Muncaster Castle Gardens this year included Todd Various from Detroit and worldwide street performer Joe May.

Muncaster Castle is believed to be the only castle in the world to appoint its own modern day jester.

The original Tom Fool was a notorious character who is said to have been the inspiration for the court jester in Shakespeare’s King Lear.

It is also suspected his name gave inspiration to the expression 'Tom Foolery'.