A community of like-minded individuals have been quietly living in a gated estate off the M25 motorway for nearly 100 years – and doing it all without clothes.
Established in 1929, Spielplatz is home to 50 naturalists who prefer to spend their time nude.
The gated community near Bricket Wood in Hertfordshire, is a place where nudity is fully accepted as a rule, HertfordshireLive reports.
Resident Tom Derrier Beers estimates that there are 50 people living there.
Camping at Spielplatz in summer (Photo: spielplatz.co.uk)
Tom said, “We tend to be somewhat calm. But that’s great among other naturalists, because we just communicate with each other without any problems.”
Tom, who is from Pennsylvania, found an interest in nature when he started designing life drawing lessons and his future wife Victoria attended one of those sessions.
Victoria has been drawing corpses since she was sixteen and is very comfortable with the human form. However, she was not very confident in her body, and it was Tom who slowly aroused her interest in nature.
Victoria is gardening naked (Photo: family photo)
“Tom is really excited about it,” Victoria says. “I think it took a little longer because society doesn’t see it as a normal thing. As a woman, society makes you body aware. When you’re naked, you realize that it’s all irrelevant. It’s amazing.”
“You realize that bodies go through different stages. The idea of ’beautiful body’ is ridiculous. It makes fun of it. I just wish other people would see it. A lot of people don’t have the right idea of places like this. I just don’t get it.”
“When you see people who are not wearing clothes, it’s like: ‘Oh, that’s it.’ You have to focus on who they are as a person, and that’s the most important thing. There are no clothes that say where you are in society, or what group you belong to. You are just as a person.”
Tom is passionate about nature (Photo: family photo)
Tom said, “If you’re used to seeing people as they are, that’s a whole different story.”
Founded in 1929 by Charles and Dorothy McCaskey, Spielplatz is the longest-running nudist resort in the United Kingdom. It is also the only residential nudist community in the country, where nudists live together.
In 1957, investigative reporter Dan Farson, the documentary series Out of Step on ITV, visited Spielplatz and interviewed Charles and Dorothy and their daughter Iseult. It is believed that the program was the first time a naked woman was seen on British television.
Isolet Kelly, daughter of Charles and Dorothy McCasky, founders of Spielplatz (Photo: spielplatz.co.uk)
Tom explains, “When Victoria and I met, I said, ‘Let’s go and test this.’ So we came in a very rainy and rainy February, and we visited and stayed in one of the cabins up the road. That there were some very nice people.
“We thought, OK, maybe we’ll take the advice and need to come back when it’s warmer. And we did. And we noticed at the time that this property was beginning to be built. And I said to Victoria, ‘We might really want to look into this.'”
About 50 people built a house for themselves on Spielplatz (Photo: spielplatz.co.uk)
Spielplatz is the German word for “playground,” and it was established by naturists as a place to retreat.
Even now, when the site is closed to visitors for the cold winter months, there are signs of bustling life.
There is a club, a center for social gatherings, a children’s playground, hot tubs, a swimming pool, a basketball court, and camping grounds.
Spielplatz has a beautiful pool (Photo: spielplatz.co.uk)
Tom says, “As a community, there’s a real ethos of wanting to be here, get together, and just enjoy social nudity. It’s a real cult of sunshine when you’re out and about, which is beautiful. And of course, that’s really financially good for you too.”
The gated community is minutes from the M25 and not far from St Albans or Watford. But Tom and Victoria say few people seem to have heard of Spielplatz in the local area, despite it being very popular in the nudist community.
Tom said: “There are an astonishing number of Briquette Wood residents who have no idea he’s here. But that’s about to change.”
British Naturists, a member organization of the naturists, has acquired the property adjacent to Spielplatz. The site has been a members club for the entirety of Spielplatz’s existence, but its activity has been in decline. It is being redeveloped with the hope of becoming a nudist hub in the London area.
Naturalists come from all over the country to enjoy the facilities of Spielplatz (Photo: spielplatz.co.uk)
Tom said: “It used to be that parliamentarians from the 30s, 40s and 50s came here regularly as a way to escape the press, relax and enjoy themselves.
“George Bernard Shaw was a visitor and wrote about his experiences here. All sorts of things that got lost have slowly happened over the decades. Back in the 1950s, there were several hundred people here camping and experiencing [naturism] On a warm summer’s day.”
When asked what the community at Spielplatz can teach the rest of the world, Tom said, “I don’t think Spielplatz or its members particularly strive to teach anyone anything. They wish to feel accepted by more people, and they like to feel that the experience and the joy they share In nudity and experience they will experience it more.
“If there is a message that Spielplatz helps personify it (no pun intended), there will be a lot of respect to be learned from sharing social nudity.”