Welcome to the Independent State of Cuckfield website!

The Independent State (ISOC) is a local charitable organisation, as well as being a sovereign country.

The state was established by a Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1966,  in response to the annexation of the land used for the annual Donkey Grand National at Whiteman’s Green (which had been used to raise funds for the local community).

With the Donkey Races effectively banned, a hard core of revolutionaries issued the proclamation of UDI – and established the first election for Mayor, making ISOC the first “mayorality” (cf principality) in the world.

The mayor for our 58th year, is Jem Lee, who was reelected in October 2024. (He set an all-time record for 2023’s election with over 1.6 million votes.)

Cuckfield Mayor 2022 Jem Lee
Mayor 2022-2024  Jem Lee


The aims of the Independent State are to ensure the welfare of all Cuckfield’s citizens, young and old, and to protect the local surroundings.

It raises money through the mayoral election and distributes all that election money to various organisations, groups and charities based in Cuckfield and the surrounding area, to the benefit of the community.


All the money raised by all the candidates goes into the funds for distribution to local good causes. The running costs of the Independent State of Cuckfield itself and its events are covered by raising money outside the Mayor’s Election.


The Independent State of Cuckfield does not operate a formal membership list and so there are no membership fees!  All Cuckfield residents are automatically members (or citizens) of the Independent State of Cuckfield.

  • The duties of citizens are to spread the message that the fundamental purpose of the Independent State is to raise money at each year’s Mayor’s Election and to support ISOC events in any way possible, for example by actively helping, by coming along, or even just by telling family and friends when events are taking place!
  • And everyone is encouraged to vote and vote often!



Election Countdown

2023’s date for the count, is Friday, October 20th  so why not and come see the candidates buying their last votes… or perhaps it could be you dressing in the scarlet robes? Next year’s candidates will be planning their electioneering fundraising!

The day after the count, the new Mayor will lead the procession through the village on the Saturday afternoon  (roads will be closed for the floats and marchers) and will then receive the keys to the village at The Talbot.

More information about the Election & Procession

Mayor’s Election

  • Held on the third Friday in October, the Mayor’s Election prides itself on being completely and openly corrupt – whichever candidate buys the most votes is declared the winner and elected as the next Mayor of The Independent State of Cuckfield.
      • Votes cost 1 penny each
Fund raising (aka  getting in the votes) in 2020 and 2021 was somewhat muted event due to the pandemic but traditions continued with Iain Pringle being elected as the 54th Mayor of the Independent State of Cuckfield, before being narrowly beaten a year later in October 2021 when Andrew Leask became our 55th holder of the office.
Why not start your campaign for 2022 now?
  • Candidates do not have produce birth certificates or be natural-born citizens. The only rule is that they must have some involvement with Cuckfield though residency, work, or social connection.
  • They are usually (but need not be) associated with one of the Cuckfield pubs,  but they can also be linked to one or more other Cuckfield organisations such as the Dramatic Society or The Singing Allsorts!
  • To stand as a mayoral candidate, or to find out more about ISOC, contact the chairman.
  • Candidates can raise funds to buy votes by any means, and candidates have come up with many imaginative methods and often raise considerable sums to go towards those much needed votes on election night.

For example

  • Auctions and raffles for fantastic prizes generously donated by many companies and individuals
  • Parachute jumps
  • Garden parties
  • Spectacular music nights and star studded concerts
  • Sponsored bike ride and rowing events
  • Race nights
  • Quizzes

The Count

  • The election and count and results are the highlight of the ISOC year.
  • The count is hosted by a Cuckfield Pub on a rotating basis, with a buffet to accompany the traditional drinking (campaigning is thirsty work!) as the candidates’ totals move upwards…
    • See our facebook page for details of which pub will host the next count.
    • There is a tradition that candidates keep their votes discrete  and so as the evening progresses more “votes” are remembered and totals rise just before the deadline and a winner is declared.
  • Voting now ends at 9:55pm, usually with a late flurry of votes before the winner is announced just after 10pm.
  • The candidate with the most votes is declared the winner and elected as the next Mayor of Cuckfield.
  • Entertainment on election nights has featured discos, quizzes and live bands, especially The New City Jazzmen during the 60s, 70s & 80s, and The Buffaloes during the Noughties
  • The current Mayor stands for re-election at the end of their year in office, however only two Mayors, George Stevenson and Ted Murphy have won consecutive elections, and both of these were back in the 1970s.

The Mayor’s Procession

The  Saturday morning after election night sees the The Mayor’s Procession (run by the Independent State of Cuckfield in conjunction with Cuckfield Parish Council). Do you want to take part? (It pays to do so!)

  • The procession sets off at 2:30pm from Warden Park School and travels up London Lane and London Road to Brainsmead, where it turns around and goes back down London Road and the High Street to turn around again in Ockenden Lane before parking up in the High Street at about 3pm outside the Talbot. (At about 5pm it returns to Warden Park.)
  • The new Mayor is welcomed by the Sheriff of Cuckfield, traditionally the landlord of The Talbot, and is presented with the Keys of Cuckfield, plus a celebratory drink, before making an acceptance speech to their gathered subjects massed in the High Street
  • Before leaving Warden Park, all the procession entrants are judged, and rosettes are awarded to the organisations that come first, second and third, with each of these organisations also receiving a cash prize from the Independent State of Cuckfield
  • Every organisation that takes part in the procession receives a donation from the Independent State of Cuckfield, from the total raised by all the candidates at that year’s Mayor’s Election.

Join The Procession

After the election of the new Mayor the annual Procession through Cuckfield celebrates the winning candidate and the Independent State!

ISOC is delighted to invite all local organisations to take part.

Remember ALL participating organisations receive a donation from the Independent State of Cuckfield!

We look forward to seeing the creativity and ingenuity of your entry, which can come in any shape or size and doesn’t have to be mechanised; how about wheelbarrows, bicycles, scooters, or just walking with the dog – anything and
anyone can be decorated to join the procession!

Previous Mayors

Since the first election in 1966, many Publicans and other upstanding members of the Cuckfield community have won the election to be Mayor of Cuckfield.

  • Over the years many fantastic people have allowed themselves to be entered into the race to become Mayor, and one or two have succumbed to a little arm twisting!

Notable previous Mayors include:

  • Peter Bowring’s wife Phyl, who was the driving force of the Independent State for many years
  • Phyl & Peter’s son Mike Bowring
  • The only 4 time winner to date is Ken Gregory
  • Two time winners George Stevenson, Ted Murphy & Babs Talman
  • Publicans representing all of the Cuckfield pubs: Rose & Crown (Babs Talman), Wheatsheaf (Edger Dudley, Rob Helliwell), Talbot (Diane Goodchild), White Harte (Joe Mitchell, Christine Murphy) plus the now closed Kings Head (Ted Murphy, Martin Lindley, Jackie Young), Ansty Cross (Keith Randall) and Ship (Vicky Parke)
  • There have also been several related Mayors, including Mother & Son, Father & Son, Husband & Wife (3 times!), Father & Daughter, Uncle & Nephew, First Cousins, Partners, Sister-in-Law & Brother-in-Law.
  • The 2006 and 2016 Mayor’s Elections marked the 40th and 50th anniversaries of both the Independent State of Cuckfield and the election. In recognition of these major milestones, 40 candidates stood for election in 2006 with Henry O’Donohue emerging as the victor, and 50 candidates stood in the 2016 election with Wilf Knighton taking the robes on that occasion. Here’s to 60 candidates in 2026!


More information about the Independent State and its activities can be found at

If you are interested in hearing about Independent State events you can sign  up for the (occasional) email newsletter here!  (See the  archive of past emails)

You can contact the Independent State by email to info@cuckfieldstate.org

You can also call Mike Schlup on 01444 454336 or talk to any of the volunteers currently serving on the committee of the Independent State of Cuckfield.


The activities of the Independent State of Cuckfield are coordinated by a committee of volunteers, including the incumbent Mayor.  Many of Cuckfield’s residents also help out, and new stewards, helpers and innovators are always welcome!

The Independent State also seeks to reinforce the sense of Cuckfield community through the participation of Cuckfield residents in the organisation of, and attendance at, the various Independent State of Cuckfield events.

It is the committee that organises the annual events, including the election night and count, the new Mayor’s Parade,  Easter Walking Race, the May Day Cuckoo Fayre and the Pensioners’ Christmas Lunch.

The current committee comprises

The Current Mayor
Chairman – Mike Schlup
Secretary – Jo Murphy
Treasurer – Debbie Schlup
Shirley Coates
Leanne Knapman
Tony Taylor
Den Jordan
Steve Wilcock