The great heatwave of 2006 may already seem like a distant memory, but as the summer draws to a close, a new survey by property website propertyfinder.com reveals that millions of Britons have been stripping off completely on terraces, balconies and in gardens all over the UK.
A startling 19.7% of respondents say they have got their kit off outside while at home on at least one occasion, equivalent to around 11 million people. The figures also suggest people are not going to great lengths to ensure nobody sees them, with 21% saying that they have caught their neighbours in the altogether at some point.
Those in metropolitan areas are more likely than those outside cities to sunbathe nude (21% compared to 16%). It seems that even though rural homes may be more secluded, city dwellers are less likely to know their neighbours and a greater feeling of anonymity seems to lower metropolitan inhibitions.
It would appear that traditional British stuffiness is diminishing as the findings reveal Brits to be fairly relaxed about the possibility of having naked neighbours. When asked if they would be put off buying a house with nudists next door, 50% said they would have 'no concern at all', while 34% said they wouldn't mind as long as they did not have to see their neighbours naked. Only 16% said they would not want to buy a home in these circumstances.
While 29% said they would be embarrassed to talk to their neighbours once they had encountered them topping up their tan in the nude, 57% said it would make no difference at all to their neighbourly relations (and a further 10% said they had no contact at all with their neighbours anyway). An especially friendly 4% said it would enhance their relationship with those next door.
Younger people were less likely to have concerns than older people. 59% of the under 45s would have 'no concern at all' in buying a home next to naturists compared to only 41% of over 45s and 50% for the overall average.
Warren Bright, chief executive of propertyfinder.com said: "It seems that the Brits' traditional prudishness is a thing of the past. The vast majority of homeowners are fine with neighbourhood nudity. What upsets people far more is noise and antisocial behaviour. A quiet neighbourhood is a big draw to the vast majority of buyers, whether the neighbours are clothed or otherwise."
In contrast to the figures on nudity, 46% of respondents cite night time party noise as completely unbearable and would put them off buying a home, 45% hearing music through the walls or floors, 39% domestic arguments and 37% music being played outside in the garden or on a terrace or balcony.
The latest research by Propertyfinder.com adds to the evidence that the nation is becoming more relaxed with nudity in private gardens, or other outdoor areas. In a recent court case in Cardigan in West Wales, a woman was cleared by magistrates of indecent exposure, sweeping aside allegations that her behaviour was 'grossly offensive to normal decent persons'.
This research also suggests that naturism is much more widespread than might be believed. While there are just 16,000 members of British Naturism in the UK and around 130 'sun clubs', the statistics suggest that many millions of us have at some point bared all in our gardens.
Andrew Welch, Commercial Manager of British Naturism said: "Nude sunbathing is the most natural thing in the world. It is terrific news to hear that it is becoming more socially acceptable too. Naturists are incredibly considerate and take great care not to offend. The seclusion of a back garden is the ideal place. Why not give it a try?"