News, Culture & Society

Private dinner for naturists in pub is cancelled after locals fear it could distract drivers

In his four decades as a naturist, Keith Hillier-Palmer has been no stranger to prudery and prejudice over his lifestyle.

But when he organised a dinner for like-minded men and women at a village pub, one objection came in the altogether unexpected form of… road safety fears.

Retired teacher Mr Hillier-Palmer, 72, said managers at The Swan Inn in Sandhurst, Kent, had seemed ‘enthusiastic’ about hosting the private event.

But they then cancelled it three days before it was due to take place, suddenly leaving the 22 naturists who had bought tickets with nothing on that evening.

Complaints were made by locals to the pub and the parish council over the dinner – including that the sight of naked people through the windows could distract passing motorists.

Naturist Keith Hillier-Palmer, 72, (right) and his partner Peter Hillier-Palmer, 65, (left) are part of the East Sussex Naturists group. The pair had planned to host a pub dinner with 22 other naturists but it was cancelled after the local Parish Council received complaints that it could distract driver

Dining with a difference: Naturists at a previous pub night

Dining with a difference: Naturists at a previous pub night

A parish council source said: ‘The Swan has got huge windows with no curtains at the front and is on a busy road. There was concern it could be a hazard and possibly cause an accident.’

The pub was prepared to put black tablecloths up in the windows to cover the glass up to head height for the event.

But by then word of the naturists’ visit had spread in the small community and in the face of what one local described as ‘general uproar’, the pub cancelled the event.

Mr Hillier-Palmer, a committee member of East Sussex Naturists group, who lives in Rye, a 20-minute drive from the pub, said: ‘We’ve held similar events in other pubs and road safety’s never been an issue.

‘I also belong to a naturist ramblers’ club called the Stark Trekkers. Some of our rambles are near roads and people go past without crashing their vehicles.

The couple posed for photographs in their garden when the Mail spoke to them this week

The couple posed for photographs in their garden when the Mail spoke to them this week

‘It’s disappointing. The pub would only have been open to naturists with tickets that night, they wouldn’t have been among clothed diners, and they would’ve been clothed when entering and leaving.

‘A lot more people are accepting of naturism nowadays. Textiles – as we call people in clothes – often say hello and smile when we meet them on rambles.

‘But unfortunately there are still a few who have Victorian views and are prudish about it.’

He and his partner Peter Hillier-Palmer, 65, a retired Royal Mail sorting office worker, have held parties with both naturist and textile guests in their back garden.

Peter, who is chairman of East Sussex Naturists, said: ‘Naturists have wrongly been labelled “perverts” in the past. But there’s nothing sexual about it.

‘Naturists are clean, tidy and our behaviour is exemplary. We just want to be able to do the same things as textiles – but with no clothes on.’

The dinner for 22 naturists was supposed to be held at The Swan Inn (pictured) in Sandhurst, Kent but it was cancelled following opposition from locals

The dinner for 22 naturists was supposed to be held at The Swan Inn (pictured) in Sandhurst, Kent but it was cancelled following opposition from locals 

The couple posed for photographs in their garden – with a strategically placed flowerpot and watering can – when the Mail spoke to them this week.

The pub night, due to have taken place on November 12, was advertised on Nothing On Events, a website that advertises activities for naturists.

Most of those who booked were of retirement age or older.

Tickets cost £17 to £30 depending on how many courses guests wanted and whether they wanted a glass of prosecco to start. Other drinks would have had to be paid for separately.

The pub’s usual menu includes sausage and mash, butternut squash ravioli and a ‘fully loaded dirty burger’.

The pub said on its Facebook page on November 9 that ‘after hearing a lot of people’s concerns within our local community’ about the event, it ‘will NO LONGER be taking place and is CANCELLED’.

It added: ‘We apologise for any upset or inconvenience this has caused.’

One woman commented online: ‘Thank God!… and well done for listening to people’s concerns.’

But another local said: ‘Well, I hope that all the people that moaned will now come in that night and support their local pub.’

The pub’s owner, Steve Tindall, told the Mail: ‘We’re trying to get over all the Covid stuff which hit the industry and like to encourage different things.

The pub night at The Swan Inn, due to have taken place on November 12, was advertised on Nothing On Events, a website that advertises activities for naturists

The pub night at The Swan Inn, due to have taken place on November 12, was advertised on Nothing On Events, a website that advertises activities for naturists

‘It would have been a decent night business-wise, but after discussions with the pub’s manager it was felt it was better not to go ahead rather than upset the locals. It was a difficult decision.’

Keith Hillier-Palmer said he didn’t ‘blame the pub for being cautious if they thought it might affect their business’ – and urged any other landlords ‘keen to avail themselves of the “naked pound” to get in touch.’

Naturists who bought tickets have been fully refunded. Among them was Sue Piper, 74, from Lydd, Kent, a former nurse and now editor of Naturist Life magazine, who once sat naked on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square for an art project.

She said: ‘I’m really annoyed the pub night was cancelled. It would’ve been a nice evening out. But people don’t understand about naturism – there’s a freedom about getting your kit off and it’s all about accepting people for who they are not what they look like.’

British Naturism, the umbrella group of British naturists, reported a surge of new members during lockdown.

Other events previously organised by East Sussex Naturists include naked ten-pin bowling, a vineyard tour and visits to art galleries.

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



Find local lawyers and law firms at USAttorneys.com