A Day to remember – Our visit to Spielplatz and Sunfolk
“Are you the Irish visitors?” -we got to hear over and over in Spielplatz this morning.
Indeed, we were the modest Irish delegation on a day trip to discover two of the most emblematic “English nudist colonies”, Spielplatz and Sunfolk.
Only half an hour away from Luton and nestling in idyllic Hertfordshire countryside, both Spielplatz and Sunfolk are the perfect retreat for a weekend, week-long breaks, or day visits like ours.
Upon arrival lovely Janet showed us around in Spielplatz, the longest-operated naturist resort in the UK (since 1929) and ‘the place to be when you have nothing on’, as their slogan aptly goes.
It is documented that British parlamentarians from the 30s, 40s and 50s came up regularly as a way to escape the press and just relax and enjoy themselves. In the 1957 documentary series Out of Step on ITV, the investigative reporter Dan Farson visited Spielplatz Naturist Club and interviewed founders Charles Macaskie, Mrs. Macaskie, and their daughter Iseult. It is claimed the programme was the first showing of a naked woman on British television.
Following upon its impressive history, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw was also a visitor to the site and wrote about his experiences. In March 1932 a letter signed by him and other intellectuals of the time was published in The Times newspaper. They argued that
Many other groups have been formed to practise air bathing, but have found it necessary to secrete themselves in the woods round London in order to avoid the attention of the public, the Press, their friends, and their neighbors. This need for secrecy is an iniquitous state of affairs! Semi-nudity can be viewed on the stage by paying for it, but cannot, it seems, be indulged in for health and well-being in the open air, until for lack of it one is ill enough to go to a hospital or a home for crippled children! The movement needs to be rescued from the ill-informed scorn and disrepute from which it has suffered, and to be raised to the level of other healthy recreations.
In such historical 12-acre surroundings we admired the 70 diverse properties, and got to talk to the residents between sauna, pool and jacuzzi. It was common knowledge that the Irish delegation was spending some hours there, and they were amused to see the 21C water was not too cold for some of us.
We engaged in lively conversation with such a friendly community. We were really impressed when we heard that the cost of living at Spielplatz could amount to as little as £250 per month! Of course, the waiting list to acquire one of the properties is a long one!
After a gorgeous cold buffet kindly arranged for our group, our time at Spielplatz was already over.
Luckily for us, they brought us to an adjoining gate and in less than one minute we were inside Sunfolk, saving us the hassle of having to dress and walk for 2 miles along the boundaries of the properties.
My very first time walking naked from one nudist campsite to another one!
I have walked in the past the 8 km between the formidable campsites of Montalivet and Euronat on the Atlantic coast in France but had to get dressed for the textile beach in between the two nudist beaches, hence I fully appreciated the luxury of Sunfolk’s location just next to Spielplatz, a cherished gift for eager visitors like us, not willing to loose a minute from our naturist experience.
Sunfolk emerged as a slightly different site; glamping and a very well kept central meadow with the glass pool ceiling were at the centre of the five acre terrain.
The volunteer on duty Colin showed us around and explained about the history of the place. Once a members club called the Sun-Folk Society which went back to 1931, it was acquired by British Naturism in 2020. With development plans pending after the summer 2022, it will become a showcase for naturism as a camping park and day visit hub. Fully furnished bell tents with beds, carpet and furniture are already available from £40 per night.
Both places can boast a nearly centenary naturist tradition, Spielplatz being older by 2 years only and bigger by 7 acres! Both have wide areas to sunbathe and set up visitors’ tents. Pathways and bluebells were in season during our May visit. And they are at a 15-minute walk from the nearest train station, How Wood Hertfordshire, or a 30-minute drive from Luton airport.
We can say we had it all today – sunshine and rain, sauna and pool, lunch and refreshments, peace and relaxation, history and insight into the future, but above all a great warm reception and camaraderie by our fellow English naturists. We really felt at home in both campsites, getting the VIP treatment with our INA/INF credentials.
We can’t wait now to explore further nudist clubs in our neighbouring country.
More information about the sites:
Spielplatz – https://www.spielplatz.co.uk/
Sunfolk – https://www.sunfolk.bn.org.uk/