A History of Naturism in Britain

Naturism, also known as nudism, is the practice of social nudity, often in natural settings. It has a long and rich history in Britain, with a tradition of promoting body positivity, self-confidence, and a closer connection to nature.

In this article, we’ll explore the history of naturism in Britain and the health benefits of being naked.

The Early Days of Naturism in Britain

The early days of naturism in Britain can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when a number of individuals and groups began to advocate for the benefits of nudity and natural living.

One of the earliest advocates of naturism in Britain was Henry S. Salt, a writer and social reformer who believed that nudity was a natural and healthy way of life.

Salt published several books on the subject, including “The Nudist Idea” (1907), which argued that nudity could promote physical and mental health, as well as social equality.

English Gymnosophical Society

The English Gymnosophical Society (EGS) was a British organisation founded in 1922 by a group of enthusiasts who were interested in promoting the practice of nudism or naturism. The term “gymnosophy” is derived from the Greek words for “naked” and “wisdom” and was used to describe the philosophy of living simply and naturally, without clothing.

The EGS was influenced by the German naturist movement and the ideas of the German philosopher Richard Ungewitter.

The society’s main purpose was to promote the benefits of sunbathing, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle, as well as the practice of social nudity. They believed that nudity was natural, healthy, and could promote social equality.

The EGS held regular meetings and events, including picnics, hikes, and camping trips, where members would practice nudity in the great outdoors. They also published a magazine called “Sun Bathing and Health” that provided information and advice on the benefits of sunbathing and a healthy lifestyle.

The EGS was instrumental in the early development of naturism in the UK, and many of its members went on to form other naturist organisations, such as the British Naturism Federation (BNF), which still exists under a different name today.

The society’s influence helped to create a more accepting attitude towards nudity and naturism in British society, and paved the way for the growth of the naturist movement in the UK.

Around the same time, a number of clubs and societies began to form around the country, offering opportunities for people to practice social nudity in a safe and welcoming environment.

One of the earliest of these was the British Sun Bathing Society, which was founded in 1923 by a group of naturists who were inspired by the German and French movements.

Naturism in the Post-War Years

After World War II, naturism became increasingly popular in Britain, with a number of clubs and societies springing up around the country.

One of the most significant developments in the post-war period was the founding of the Central Council for British Naturism (CCBN) in 1964.

The CCBN was established to promote and protect the interests of naturists in Britain and to provide a unified voice for the movement.

Today, the organisation is called ‘British Naturism’ and has more than 10,000 members and is the largest naturist organisation in the UK.

Naturism Today

Today, naturism in Britain is growing in popularity, with numerous naturist clubs, resorts, and beaches located throughout the country.

While it has faced some opposition and stigma over the years, more and more people are now discovering the freedom and health benefits of practicing naturism in a safe and welcoming environment.

The Health Benefits of Being Naked

Today and particularly since the pandemic more people are interested in wellness and many people are citing the health benefits of being naked as a key reason for their participation.

Being naked in a social setting does help to boost body confidence and self-esteem, and can also promote a sense of freedom and liberation.

Naturists often talk about the sense of connection and community that they feel when practising social nudity.

This can be particularly important for people who feel isolated or disconnected from their bodies or from other people. In a naturist setting, there is often a sense of openness, honesty and acceptance which can be very powerful.

Being naked can also have physical health benefits, the skin isn’t meant to be covered all the time, it needs to breathe and not overheat within restrictive clothing. 

Another benefit is that exposure to sunlight can help the body to produce vitamin D, which is important for bone health and immune function. It can also help to improve circulation and skin health.

In addition to these benefits, naturism can be a great way to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors in a new and refreshing way.

Naturists often talk about the feeling of being more in tune with the natural world when they are naked, and many find that it helps to reduce stress and anxiety.

Tips for Practicing Naturism Safely

If you’re interested in trying naturism for yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you stay safe and comfortable.

First and foremost, it’s important to find a safe and welcoming environment to practice social nudity. Look for established clubs or societies that have a good reputation and that provide a safe and welcoming environment for their members.

Here at Clover Spa, we offer a very welcoming space for all people who want to feel the liberation and confidence that being clothes-free for a while has to offer.

Whether you’ve been doing it for years or trying it on for the first time, Clover Spa is somewhere you can and will feel comfortable.

Another important consideration is sun protection. When practising social nudity outdoors, it’s essential to use sunscreen and take breaks in the shade to avoid sunburn and heat exhaustion.

Of course, during the colder winter months, frostbite might be more of a concern, so be sure to make the most of our sauna and indoor spa facilities.

Finally, it’s important to be mindful of hygiene.

Showering or washing before entering a hot tub, plunge pool, steam room or sauna is standard practice at all naturist clubs, sitting on a towel whenever you sit down is expected and allowing people their own personal space.


Naturism has a rich and varied history in Britain, with a tradition of promoting body positivity, self-confidence, and a closer connection to nature.

While some people may be hesitant to try social nudity, those who have experienced it often speak of the sense of freedom, connection and community that it can provide.

If you’re interested in trying naturism for yourself, the key is to find a safe and welcoming environment where you can practice social nudity in a respectful and comfortable way. 

By following some simple guidelines, such as being mindful of sun protection and hygiene, you can enjoy the many health benefits of being naked in a social setting.