British Naturism

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British Naturism
British Naturism logo 2019.jpg
Legal statusNon-profit organisation
PurposeNaturism in the UK
Region served
UK naturists
Mark Bass[1]
Main organ
Executive Council
AffiliationsInternational Naturist Federation
Duke's Mound beach in Brighton

British Naturism (until 2009, Central Council for British Naturism) is a members organisation with both individual and organisation members. It promotes naturism in the United Kingdom, and it is recognised by the International Naturist Federation as the official national naturist organisation in that country.


According to non-statutory guidance issued by the Crown Prosecution Service

Naturism is used to describe the activities of persons who espouse nudity as part of their lifestyle. Whilst many naturists will restrict their activities to specially designated areas and/or places where there is a tradition of naked activity, such as nudist beaches, others may wish to enjoy nudity more widely.[2]

According to the guidance a balance is to be struck between the naturist's right to freedom of expression and the right of the wider public to be protected from harassment, alarm and distress.[3][4]

As a member of the International Naturist Federation, British Naturism adopted the 1974 Declaration Agde[a] that states that naturism is "a way of life in harmony with nature, characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment." [5]


British Naturism traces its origins to 1891 when a short lived society called the "Fellowship for the Naked Trust" was formed in British India.[6] This trust had ideals and principles very similar to many later organisations.

The Camp[edit]

The Camp was the first naturist club to be established in the United Kingdom. It was set up by someone known only as Moonella and existed at a country house near Wickford in Essex between 1924 and 1927.[7] It was later replaced by a new venue called "The New Camp" near St. Albans.[8] This and several others were able to form the British Sun Bathers Association in 1943.

English Gymnosophical Society[edit]

Harold Booth published articles pertaining to naturism in many magazines at the turn of the century, and in 1922 the English Gymnosophical Society (EGS) was formed as a direct result of his work. It had a site in Wickford, Essex, which it used during the summer, and in winter it held meetings in London.[7] By 1926 the EGS was renamed the New Gymnosophy Society and had a site at Bricket Wood, Hertfordshire which has subsequently been used by many different clubs.

The oldest club still in operation is Spielplatz which was founded in 1929 by Charles Macaskie and his wife Dorothy. It consists of 12 acres (4.9 ha) located in the village of Bricket Wood, in the English county of Hertfordshire..

Concurrent to this, naturism was also practised at the Welsh Harp in Hendon, apparently from as early as 1921. From this sprang the National Sun and Air Association which ran national advertisement campaigns, as well as running a gymnasium in Westbourne Grove, London. By 1937, membership of this society was running at over 2000.[citation needed]

British Sun Bathers Association[edit]

In 1943 the British Sun Bathers Association (BSBA) was formed and became recognised as a national federation of clubs, which by 1951 had 51 member clubs or groups. However, by 1953, personal and ideological differences led to the formation of the rival Federation of British Sun Clubs (FBSC).[citation needed]

British Naturism (formerly CCBN)[edit]

Both organisations existed until their merger in 1964 to create the Central Council for British Naturism (CCBN). By 2006, CCBN was usually referred to as 'British Naturism' but officially changed the name to 'British Naturism' at the 2009 AGM. In 2009, it claimed a membership of about 13,000.[citation needed]


  • 1957 - Naturist films shown in cinemas.
  • 1958 - International Naturist Federation congress in Britain.
  • 1965 - The hire of public baths for naturist swimming began.
  • 1970 - International Naturist Federation congress in Britain.
  • 1978 - International Naturist Federation congress in Britain, and the setting aside of officially designated naturist beaches.
  • 2003 - Parliament repeals all offences that explicitly make nudity an offence.[9]
  • 2007 - Parliament repeals the enabling power for councils to make bye-laws regulating standards of clothing to be worn for bathing.[10]
  • 2012 - First British Naturism National Convention held at Ilam Hall Youth Hostel
  • 2013 - Second British Naturism National Convention held at Yarnfield Park, Staffordshire
  • 2016 - Third British Naturism National Convention held at the Melville Hotel, Blackpool, from 14 to 16 October
  • 2017 - Fourth British Naturism National Convention held at The Studio Venue, Birmingham, from 7 to 8 October
  • 2018 - Fifth British Naturism National Convention held at The Studio Venue, Birmingham, from 6 to 7 October
  • 2020 - British Naturism hosted the first online Global Naturism Forum using the Zoom videoconferencing platform, 14–15 October


British Naturism has sought legal and political protection against discrimination for naturists in the United Kingdom, where an opinion poll in 2008 estimated the number of people describing themselves as naturist or nudist at 3.7 million.[11] It also runs public facing campaigns, including Women in Naturism, which encourages women to try naturist activity, Bare all for polar bears[12] which seeks to raise money for environmental conservation and The Great British Skinny Dip,[13] which encourages costume free swimming events to be run, not just by naturist clubs, but also public pools, spas, lidos and natural settings such as lakes. During the pandemic in 2020 British Naturism sought to build interest in naturism though a series of online events, including a public-facing charity event entitled "The Great British Take-off".

In April 2018, British Naturism announced that in discussion with the senior officer at the police college a mutually satisfactory solution was reached, and the resultant preamble and "decision tree" for dealing with complaints about public nudity has been uploaded to the Police Training manuals.[14] British Naturism argues that Naturism is protected as a philosophical belief under the Equality Act of 2010. The Crown Prosecution Service issued guidance in 2013 updated in 2019,[2] which, among other things, confirms that Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 is unlikely to apply in cases of passive nudity. Serving police officers now have advice online and in their training manual.[15] Using nudity for "intentional harassment, alarm or distress" remains an offence under Section 4A of the Public Order Act.[16]


  1. ^ The Agde definition. The INF is made up of representatives of the Naturist Organisations in 32 countries, with 7 more having correspondent status.


  1. ^ a b "Staff Directory". British Naturism. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Nudity in Public - Guidance on handling cases of Naturism | The Crown Prosecution Service". Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Nudity in Public - Guidance on handling cases of Naturism". Crown Prosecution Service. 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  4. ^ Start, Daniel (30 July 2014). "Skinny dipping is not a crime. Dive in". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  5. ^ International Naturist Federation, retrieved 03 December 2020
  6. ^ Margaret Dickinson, ed. (2015). Wild Swimming Walks: 28 River, Lake and Seaside Days Out by Train from London. Wild Things Publishing Limited. p. 185. ISBN 9781910636015.
  7. ^ a b Worpole 2000, p. 45.
  8. ^ Lily Rothman (2 February 2015). "This Is the Nudist Colony That Got a Downton Shout-Out". Time. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  9. ^ Sexual Offences Act 2003. London: OPSI. 20 November 2003.
  10. ^ Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (PDF). London: OPSI. 30 October 2007.
  11. ^ "Legislative Scrutiny: Equality Bill - Human Rights Joint Committee (Memorandum submitted by British Naturism)". Parliament of the UK. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  12. ^ "Bare all for polar bears". Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation. 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  13. ^ "The Great British Skinny Dip". 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  14. ^ "Naturism is Lawful" on British Naturism web site, retrieved 03 December 2020
  15. ^ College of Policing Briefing Note retrieved 3 December 2020
  16. ^ Welch, Andrew (19 June 2018). "Policing Naturism - BN engineers a major breakthrough". British Naturism. Retrieved 10 October 2018.

External links[edit]