The Coate-Duffel family dynasty had been founded on the wealth generated by their button factory over the last three hundred years.
Now, owing to the cheap import of buttons from the East, the family business is in jeopardy, and Frederick Coate-Duffel has to find an urgent solution.
With the help of Reginald Pratt, an architect of questionable ability who has nevertheless managed to acquire an international reputation, they pursue a plan to convert the button factory into a museum of extraordinary curios.
The Superior People's Alliance, a political party, are desperate to obtain the factory, believing it would provide an ideal platform for their social engineering experiments. They also will go to any lengths to obtain one of the key exhibits that is ear-marked for the museum, a sock that supposedly belonged to Adolf Hitler.
As the situation descends into chaos, nobody, is aware of the part that Clarence, the goat, will play in events.