British Naturism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from New Gymnosophy Society)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

British Naturism
British Naturism logo 2018.jpg
Legal statusNon-profit organisation
PurposeNaturism in the UK
Region served
UK naturists
Nick Caunt
Judith Stinchcombe
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.


In the British legal context:

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.[1]

The law recognises that a balance needs 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.[2][3]

As a member of the International Naturist Federation, British Naturism adopted the 1974 Declaration Agde[a] that states that naturism is:

a lifestyle in harmony with nature, expressed through social nudity, and characterised by self-respect of people with different opinions and of the environment.[4]


British Naturism traces its origins to 1891 when a short lived society called the "Fellowship for the Naked Trust" was formed in British India.[5] 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.[6] It was later replaced by a new venue called "The New Camp" near St. Albans.[7] 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.[6] 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.

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.

N. F. Barford had also formed his Sun Bathing Society which promoted sun and air bathing for families, during the same period.

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).

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]


Notable milestones in the development of naturism in the United Kingdom included:

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.[8]
2007 - Parliament repeals the enabling power for councils to make bye-laws regulating standards of clothing to be worn for bathing.[9]
2008 - Opinion Poll on behalf of British Naturism shows the number of people in the UK who describe themselves as 'naturist' or 'nudist' to be 3.7 million.
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

Recent activities[edit]

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.[10] It also runs public facing campaigns, including Women in Naturism, which encourages women to try naturist activity, Bare all for polar bears[11] which seeks to raise money for environmental conservation and The Great British Skinny Dip,[12] 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. The 2016 Great British Skinny Dip was held over the weekend of 2 to 4 September, with around 30 locations hosting events.

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. Naturism is protected as a philosophical belief by the Equalities Act of 2010 and section 66 of the 2003 Sexual Offences Act. Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 does not apply to passive nudity. The Crown Prosecution Service issued guidance in 2013,[1] and now serving police officers have advice online and in their training manual. Using nudity for "intentional harassment, alarm or distress" remains an offence under Section 4A of the Public Order Act.[13]

Young British Naturists[edit]

British Naturism has an active youth group for naturists under 35 called Young British Naturists, usually shortened to YBN.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ The Agde definition. The INF is made up of representative of the Naturist Organisations in 32 countries, with 7 more having correspondent status.
  1. ^ a b "Nudity in Public - Guidance on handling cases of Naturism | The Crown Prosecution Service". Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Nudity in Public - Guidance on handling cases of Naturism". Crown Prosecution Service. 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  3. ^ Start, Daniel (30 July 2014). "Skinny dipping is not a crime. Dive in". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  4. ^ Choin 2002.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Worpole 2000, p. 45.
  7. ^ Lily Rothman (2 February 2015). "This Is the Nudist Colony That Got a Downton Shout-Out". Time. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  8. ^ Sexual Offences Act 2003. London: OPSI. 20 November 2003.
  9. ^ Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (PDF). London: OPSI. 30 October 2007.
  10. ^ "Legislative Scrutiny: Equality Bill - Human Rights Joint Committee (Memorandum submitted by British Naturism)". Parliament of the UK. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  11. ^ "Bare all for polar bears". Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation. 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  12. ^ "The Great British Skinny Dip". 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  13. ^ Welch, Andrew (19 June 2018). "Policing Naturism - BN engineers a major breakthrough". British Naturism. Retrieved 10 October 2018.

External links[edit]