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 the first “mayorality” (cf principality) in the world.

The current mayor (the 52st, elected in October 2018) is Leanne Knapman (left)!

Leanne won with over one million votes – haviong raised over £10,000 for Cuckfield this year alone … and we estimate that she in thirteen previous attempts she raised  at least another £30,000 …. truly a deserving Mayor for the Indpendent State.


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 of 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

Election Night 2019
Who will be the next Mayor of the Independent State?18 October 2019
27 days to go.

Come along to the count on Friday 19th (this year it’s at  the White Harte) and see the candidates buying their last votes…

On Saturday 20th the new Mayor will lead the procession through the village (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
The Election Night Count in 2019 will be held
on Friday 18th October
Why not start your campaign 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 contact the chairman of ISOC Jim Ayling
  • .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…
    • In 2018 it was the White Harte’s turn to host the 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 ends at 10:55pm, usually with a late flurry of votes before the winner is announced at 11pm.
  • 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!


Election Celebrations for 2018

The Election Night Count in 2018 is being held at The White Harte on Friday 19th October. And on Saturday 20th the afternoon  will see the new Mayor’s Procession through the village – with floats, music and entertainment… Can you help with marshalling?


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 or independent_state_of_cuckfield@hotmail.com

You can also call Jim Ayling at the White Harte Inne on 01444 413454
Or talk to any of the volunteers currently serving on the committee of the Independent State of Cuckfield.


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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

Mayor – Leanne Knapman
Chairman – Jim Ayling
Secretary – Martin Ingebretson
Treasurer – Ken Gregory
Tina Blackburn
Shirley Coates
Kate Fleming
Heather Gover
Doreen Gregory
Tina Heath
Helen Heward
Kate Horne
Leanne Knapman
Jo Murphy
Vicky Parke
Annie Rees
Nick Rowe
Debbie Schlup
Mike Schlup
Jane Swain
Tony Taylor
Liz Woods
Richard Woods