The search to find the oldest Cuckfield passport is hotting up!
Life-long Cuckfield resident Evelyn Stenning has entered the fray with three original passports numbered 672, 673 and 674.
“Two of the passports belonged to my parents Sid and Olive Stenning and the third is mine,” said Evelyn. “We must have got them together as they have consecutive numbers.”
She also has a two modern passports from 2009 and 2011 but these are not numbered.
Current mayor Wilf Knighton launched the search for Cuckfield’s oldest passport shortly after he was elected in November. He has offered a bottle of champagne to the person with the earliest numbered Independent State of Cuckfield Passport.
The first passports were issued when Cuckfield was declared an Independent State 50 years ago.
Early passports cost five shillings (around £2) and declared the holder as a ‘Freeman of Cuckfield’ for one year. Passport holders were able to ‘pass freely and without hindrance in Cuckfield’s Ancient Boundaries’, were protected within the boundaries, and were exempt from paying any custom duty on articles bought in the village!
Passports were signed by the Mayor at the time of issue. “Mine and my dad’s passports are also signed by Keith Fordyce, a well-known radio presenter at the time,” said Evelyn.
Sue Burgess, of the Cuckfield Museum, also sent in a superb example: Cyril Pike’s No.73 passport – but as this is an exhibit it won’t count sadly!
If you have an earlier passport than Evelyn and would like the chance to win a bottle of bubbly, email a photo of it to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01444 884115 by the end of February.