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 51st, elected in October 2017) is Evelyn Stenning (left)!

As well as official duties Evelyn writes a column for Cuckfield Life titled “From The Mayor’s Table“.


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!







The Independent State organises several annual events as well as October’s Election Night Count

The following day sees the New Mayor’s Procession through the village. All the money raised by the candidates’ votes goes to local good causes so The Independent State of Cuckfield raises its own funds for its administration.

And in this centenary year of the armistice ISOC is organising a tea dance as part of the wider Cuckfield Remembers events in the village.

Does your organisation take part in the Mayoral Procession? If not why not? Get in touch and your or your organisation could take part in the fun in 2018! As well as  a cash prize for the three best dressed entries all the participating organisations receive a donation from The Independent State.

Easter Monday Walking Race

  • A walking race has been held around the roads of Cuckfield and surrounding areas since the 1920s
  • A number of routes have been used over the years, but today’s route has been established since the 60s, which is around the time that the walking race came under the auspices of the Independent State of Cuckfield
  • Today the race is held each Easter Monday using a route that is approximately 5 miles long, starting from the Recreation Ground, down the High Street, up into Ansty, along Deaks Lane, back to Whitemans Green and down London Road back into the Rec.
  • There is a staggered start for residents of Cuckfield, based on previous completion times, and a cup is awarded to the first lady and first man to finish
  • Over the years other competitions have been introduced, within the same single race, including fastest resident lady, fastest resident man, fastest non-resident lady, fastest non-resident man, fastest veteran, fastest ladies team, fastest men’s team
  • Three of the competitions are named after people who made significant contributions to the history of the walking race, these are: Frank Woods (fastest veteran), Phyl Bowring (fastest resident lady), Jim Swain (fastest resident man). Frank entered the race on numerous occasions and was still taking part in his 70s, Phyl also entered the race many times and continued to take part when in her 70s, while Jim won the fastest resident man competition several times and still holds the record for the fastest ever time

Cuckoo Fayre

  • The Cuckoo Fayre started in the late 70s and takes place in the Recreation Ground on May Day Bank Holiday Monday
  • The Independent State is the overall organiser of the Cuckoo Fayre, but only receives a pitch fee from each participating organisations. (This goes towards covering the costs including insurance and the hire of the Recreation Ground.)
  • The Cuckoo Fayre is a collection of stalls run by various organisations and each keeps the money raised on its stall to contribute to their own funds and causes.
  • The Wheel of Wine stall is run by the ISOC committee, and helps support our annual operating costs.   This Wheel of Fortune offers a bottle of wine to the winner of each spin and is always a popular attraction!
  • The Fayre has featured different forms of public entertainment over the years, including tug of war, five-a-side football, obstacle course competition, Irish dancing, twirling displays, live bands, children’s games, mini football, mini rugby, dog show, marching bands, and line dancing

    Pensioner’s Christmas Lunch & Party

  • Held each year in the Queen’s Hall in late November or early December
  • Open to all the older residents living in the Parish of Cuckfield
  • Transport to and from the Queen’s Hall can be arranged
  • Due to hiring regulations, the number of diners is limited and so places are allocated as responses to invites are received – enquire now!
  • Features entertainment and a sing-a-long
  • Father Christmas is always likely to make an appearance!






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
  • 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.
  • .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…
  • 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!


Xmas Lunch!

Its the time of year when Leanne starts begging for willling helpers to wait tables at the over 65’s Xmas lunch on Friday 1st December! It is a free community lunch so all work is done on a voluntary basis. The lunch takes place at The Queens Hall in Cuckfield and we need help from approx …

Mayor attends Church Service

As traditional the Independent State of Cuckfield’s new Mayor for the forthcoming year attended Holy Trinity Church today Oct 22nd accompanied by a representative contingent. God Save The  Mayor and The  Independent State of Cuckfield


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.

For 2016/17 the committee comprises

Mayor – Wilf Knighton
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