Who’s going to win? How big will Labour’s majority be? Which big beasts might lose their seat? Those were all among the questions being asked on general election night but perhaps the most pressing was - why are some declarations made by people in fancy feathered hats, or robes, breeches and knee-stockings, and some not?

And why is Swindon somewhere where it doesn’t happen?

The answer lies in the Representation of the People Act which sets the rules for who makes election declarations.

Section 24(1)(a) says: “In the case of a county constituency in England which is coterminous with or wholly contained in a county, the sheriff of the county” is the returning officer.

In borough counties, it is the mayor of the borough who is officially the returning officer.

Both of Swindon’s constituencies, after the boundaries have been redrawn, are now held to be borough constituencies (hence the move of ‘North’ and ’South’ to after the word ‘Swindon’) and therefore the Mayor of the borough, currently Councillor Imtiyaz Shaikh, could read the declaration.

But as is more common, an acting returning officer, Sam Mowbray, was appointed to both run the counting process and read the results.

In Wiltshire, in theory, at least some of the constituencies are  ‘county’ constituencies, notably East Wiltshire and South West Wiltshire, and they are wholly contained in the county of Wiltshire, so could have the declaration made by the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, currently Dr Olivia Chapple.

Declarations could have been made by the Sheriff in a fancy feathered hat and lace ruff, and even carrying a sword.

But the counts are in different places; East Wiltshire’s count was in Salisbury, and South West Wiltshire’s in Trowbridge. And it would perhaps be unfair to expect the High Sheriff to try and get to both in the middle of the night.

Therefore, Wiltshire’s counts were also declared by Wiltshire Council officers in suits; smart, but perhaps lacking the pizzazz of hats with ostrich feathers.

Ms Mowbray, who made both declarations for Swindon South and North on Friday morning said: “I’m happy enough doing the job in a sober suit, I think.

“Swindon is a modern, forward-looking authority, and borough, and perhaps looking back to the ear of feathered hats and knee breeches isn’t quite for us.”

And it should be recorded that Ms Mowbray comfortably won her bet with her counterpart in Wiltshire to have both Swindon counts done and dusted before any constituency in Wiltshire had declared.