Friday 13th of March 2020 proved to be an unusually auspicious day for naturism. In a major new undertaking for British Naturism, we took over The Sun-Folk Society and its land and property. This unprecedented move will secure the future of the Sunfolk site and its character, and will present opportunities which we expect will form a central tool in the advancement of naturism in the years ahead. The property will in future be known as “British Naturism: Sunfolk”, and we aim to make the property into a modern naturist leisure and event space and set the gold standard for naturist locations in the UK.
The Sunfolk site is situated at How Wood in Hertfordshire, between St Albans and Watford, at the junction of the M1 and the M25. It is one of three naturist sites in the area and sits adjacent to Spielplatz. As well as setting the standard for naturist experiences, our aim is that the site will be at the forefront of environmental facilities, and we are already consulting other large environmental groups on how to make the site eco-friendly. This will be helped by the fact that Sunfolk is only a 15 minute walk from the nearest railway station. The close link to public transport not only reduces the impact of visitors on the carbon footprint but means that the site will be accessible to everybody. It is often lamented that naturist facilities are so remote that they are unavailable to those without cars, and avoiding that limitation was a key factor in our decision making.
The Sun-Folk Society itself is one of the oldest clubs in the UK, founded in 1931. Arguably it is the perfect representation of the origins of UK naturism. It’s a beautiful site, bordered by a spinney of woodland, featuring sizeable lawns, a camping area and a modern covered swimming pool, alongside a timber clubhouse full of character. The longevity of UK naturism is a powerful campaigning tool, it demonstrates that naturism should be taken seriously and is not a passing fad. The fact that our facility will be underwritten by nearly 90 years of history will prove that. The design and development of the site will celebrate and showcase the legacy we have inherited. That means that as the site is brought up to modern standards, those features will blend seamlessly into the natural environment. This is not about building a functional eyesore, we envisage a location where naturists can escape to enjoy nature and good company.
We had grand plans for a spectacular opening about now, but COVID-19 has rather limited that option, so full access is not likely to be achieved until 2021. However, we are not easily discouraged and have used the enforced closure as an opportunity to press ahead with some heavy redevelopment and safety work that would have stretched over a few years in normal circumstances. The site will be improved in a number of phases, so we expect it to be great when we open but it will get even better over time.
The question that people will be asking is “How and when can I visit?”. Precise details are still being worked out, and all aspects are likely to evolve over the next few years as the site develops, but we can give you a glimpse of the future now. British Naturism: Sunfolk won’t be a club, it will be a naturist location. You won’t join Sunfolk, you’ll join British Naturism, and Sunfolk will be accessible to all of our members, and members of other Naturist federations. We envisage that day and overnight passes will be available to members with competitive pricing that ensures that the site will be financially self-sustaining. Your guests will also be welcome, and we are looking at the best way to allow people who are curious about naturism to come and give it a try. Such a move would raise attendance levels, and therefore help keep the entry price for our own members down, so there are benefits for us as individuals and for naturism at large. We would hope to have the site open and accessible continually throughout the summer months and will have small-scale events such as workshops and family days throughout the year. There is a lot of detail here and things will be introduced in phases and adapt over time, but you can already see that we are thinking ambitiously.
The self-sustaining business plan is important. Sunfolk will be a tremendous asset but we must make sure it does not unduly divert effort or resources from our other activities, such as our national events or campaigns program. Campaigning in particular is an area that we expect to benefit from Sunfolk. The proximity of the site to London and the excellent transport links can make the site a campaigning hub. If we are meeting influencers and policy makers, we will be able to host the talks on our site, so delegates are surrounded by naturists in a stunning environment. A first-hand experience of how great naturism really can be will have a huge impact on the perceptions of those we want to persuade. When we open up the site to first time naturists, Sunfolk will shape the community around it as people join in, and that is really what campaigning is about.
So that is our vision. Sunfolk is, and always will be, a great location for naturism, and a hugely important asset for British Naturism. It will be a place that we can be proud of.