Nations come together in Sunderland

An intriguing exhibition revealing some of the world’s secret societies and small nations will go on show at the University of Sunderland’s Vardy Gallery from Wednesday, November 10.

‘We Could Have Invited Everyone’ provides a rare opportunity to view obscure or unknown nations which have been set up over the centuries. Many have national anthems, languages, currencies, constitutions, flags and even stamps.

Treasures belonging to these nations have never been seen by the public in such a collection. Gallery visitors will have the chance to become active and naturalised citizens of the micronations. The Vardy Gallery will also supply information on how to start your own country.

Some of the work on display includes the entire economy of The Kingdoms of Elgaland – Vargaland. The micronation’s currency is the Thaler and the Kingdoms will be exhibiting their entire currency of 1,000,000 Thalers.

The Principality of Sealand will be exhibiting stamps and rare coins from its historic renegade principality, and one of the world's few collections of St. Kilda Mailboats will be on display.

The founding constitution of the Kingdom of Talossa will also be on view. The kingdom, founded by Robert I in his Milwaukee bedroom, peacefully ceded to the United States in 1979. Talossa’s population has gone up from 20 to over 100 in the past eight years causing new referendums on immigration control.

Several special events have been organised to compliment the exhibiton. They include The Summit of Micronations on November 25, which will be hosted by BBC presenter Danny Wallace (aka Dave Gorman’s flatmate) and attended by the Principality of Sealand, New Utopia, Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland, Empire of Atlantium, Frestonia, and Kingdom of Fusa.

The international summit - the first of its kind – has been set up to establish diplomatic relations between these realms. The summit is open to the public and free but advance booking is recommended.

The Cinema of Sovereignty on November 15 and 16 is a special film programme devoted to secret societies and the creation of small nations, hosted by Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema. It includes: The High Sign (1921), starring and directed by Buster Keaton, The Wicker Man: Director’s Cut (1973) and The Mouse That Roared (1959), starring Peter Sellers .Tickets cost £3.50 (£3 concession).

The exhibition, at the Vardy Gallery, University of Sunderland, Ashburne House, Ryhope Road, runs from November 10 to December 17. The gallery is open: Tuesday 10am to 8pm, Wednesday to Friday 10am to 5pm and Saturday by appointment.

To book a place at any of these events please contact the gallery on 0191 515 2128 or email

Notes to editors

History Of Sealand

During World War II, the UK decided to establish a number of military bases to defend England against German air raids. These sea forts housed enough troops to man and maintain artillery designed to shoot down German aircraft and missiles. They were situated along the east coast of England on the edge of the English territorial waters.

One of these bases was the famous royal fort Roughs Tower situated slightly north of the estuary region of the Thames River. In contrast to the original plan to locate the tower within the sovereign territory of England, this fortress was situated at a distance of approximately 7 nautical miles from the coast, which is more than double the then applicable 3 mile range of territorial waters; to put it briefly, this island was situated in the international waters of the North Sea.

After WWII ended, the troops were withdrawn from all bases. None of them were used again. This paved the way for occupation. On September 2 1967, former English major Paddy Roy Bates formally occupied the island and settled there with his family. After intensive discussions with lawyers, Roy Bates proclaimed the island his own state. He bestowed upon himself the title of Prince and the title of Princess to his wife and subsequently made the state the Principality of Sealand. Roy Bates, henceforth Roy of Sealand, exerted state authority on the island and thus was an absolute sovereign. The royal family and other persons that have declared loyalty to Sealand have occupied Sealand ever since.

Another work on display will be one of the world's largest collections of St. Kilda Mailboats. These mailboats were sent by the inhabitants of the isolated Scottish island of St. Kilda in the late nineteenth century as distress calls for more food and medicine from mainland Britain. These letters sealed in sheep’s stomachs were dropped off the coast of St. Kilda in the hope that they would eventually reach British shores. St. Kilda mailboats drifted as far away as Norway. The exhibition will show three of these mailboats, lent from Dunvegan Castle, Bruce Castle Museum, and a shepherd from the isle of Bernera.

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