The 230-year-old tongue-in-cheek tradition of electing a mock mayor in Woodstock is back.

The Old Woodstock Mock Mayor election began in 1786 as an anti-establishment protest and now involves a day of festivities revolving around the crowning of a new leader who is then thrown in the river.

Outgoing mock mayor Ed Creasey said: “It is a statement of Old Woodstock’s independence, and represents good natured opposition to lawful authority.

“No one really knows why the Mock Mayor started, but it is closely linked to Woodstock’s history.

Witney Gazette: Town Crier Nick Mason leads the procession through Woodstock in 2013.Picture Mark Hemsworth.

“To cut 900 years of history short, Old and New Woodstock aren't just physically separated by the River Glyme, they were politically separated until 1886 with some parts of Hill Rise still separate until 1985.

“King Henry I kicked the locals out of what was Wychwood Forest in 1110AD to build his first deer park, and Old Woodstock started by a mill on the meadows.

“In 1189, Henry II started New Woodstock, so the residents stuck down in the swampy meadows may have looked up at the town at the top of the hill with royal associations.

“The theory is the election is mocking the pomposity of New Woodstock. The first mock mayor was the brother of the New Woodstock mayor, so perhaps there may have been some sibling rivalry!”

A mock mayor, corporation and officers are elected with ‘mock’ formality, and then thrown into the river.

Witney Gazette: Mayor dunking at the Black Prince. Picture: Marc West.

Mr Creasey said: “You pretend you’re in charge but you don’t deliver on any of your commitments. My policy was to separate New Woodstock from Old Woodstock but I’m not sure how that’s going.”

This year there will be a live band, two DJs, Samba dancers, senior and junior mock mayor elections, a tug of war, a procession and Mayor-dunking, and new for this year, a Mock court.

Mr Creasey said: “Mock Court builds on the centuries-old tradition of Woodstock having its own court. You can accuse your friends and family of a heinous crime like never doing the washing up, and the Mock judge and prosecutor will call them to court, interrogate them, and if guilty, sentence them.”

The charitable event on July 24 is table-only and ticketed.

Mr Creasey said: “We do appreciate this is a change of tradition. It’s highly likely this will be for this 2021 only, but we felt it was the right balance between supporting local businesses, staying safe, raising money for charity and keeping a great tradition going.”

Tickets can be booked at or drop in a cash payment at the Black Prince.