Make Britain Sauna Again: How to support the British Sauna Society
The movement is now a registered charity.
Sauna culture is undergoing a renaissance around the world — but perhaps nowhere more so than in Britain.
An increasing number of Brits are stepping out of dingy, poorly constructed gym saunas and instead seeking more authentic sauna experiences — as well as building their own.
And they’re doing it with a little help from their global friends, including Finns, Turks, and others who have settled in Britain and want to help teach Brits about the joy of sweating it out together.
(Oh, and also with help from exporters like us here in Estonia. In fact, the UK has been our biggest market by far for Estonian sauna design and technology over recent years.)
Restoring British sauna culture
The sauna, as most people know it today, is rooted in the culture of Finno-Ugric peoples like the Finns and the Estonians.
Believe it or not though, but Britain has also been home to saunas since ancient times:
- The oldest archaeological evidence for sauna-style sweat bathing was discovered at Marden Henge, close to Stonehenge. Other stone age saunas have since been found at other ancient circles.
- Bronze age saunas have been found on the Orkney Isles.
- Bathhouses once thought to have been introduced to Britain by the Romans are now known to have predated their arrival.
- Gaelic saunas were used in parts of Scotland and Ireland until the 18th century.
- Inspired by the Ottomans, the Victorians revitalised sweat bathing by building grand new bathhouses across Britain.
Now a new chapter in British sauna history is beginning.
There’s currently a boom in high quality, authentic and quirky sauna construction across these isles inside homes and gardens, on country estates and campsites, on beaches and rooftops, inside the office of at least one trendy startup (hello TransferWise!), and alongside the training pitch of a Premier League football team (but we are not allowed to say which one!)
Celebrities (like David Beckham) have played their part in this revival. But the real story here is not about them.
It’s about the growing community of ordinary sauna enthusiasts who are coming together both online and offline across Britain. Over recent years, they’ve informally called themselves the British Sauna Society. We’ve even bumped into some of them here in Estonia:
And now, it’s official. The British Sauna Society has just registered itself as a charity in order to take the movement to sweaty new heights.
According to the British Sauna Society, their aim is to promote a new wave of sauna practice in the UK that draws from different international sauna traditions, with a mission to support sauna quality in the UK. They will do this by:
- Promoting sauna culture in the UK
- Providing standards and guidance on building, operating and using a sauna
- Engaging and expanding the sauna community
So we urge everyone to get involved if you want to be part of the British sauna community or just help support it from afar. Here’s how you can do that:
Support the British Sauna Society on social media
You can follow the British Sauna Society on Facebook and Instagram. You can also join their Facebook group and join in discussions. They are increasingly posting awesome content and opportunities to learn more about sauna culture in Britain and beyond (and experience it).
For example, by following them, we just learnt about this wonderfully preserved Finnish sauna below, which was built by Team Finland when London hosted the Olympic games in 1948!
Following the British Sauna Society on social media is the easiest thing you can do to help them get started so do it now!
Join as a founding member of the British Sauna Society
To join as a founding member of the charity, simply fill out this easy online form by the end of this year (which thankfully isn’t too far away). It takes less than a minute.
Instead of a membership fee, they’re just asking for a voluntary donation to help build up the Society’s starting finances. It’s a very inclusive organisation though so they don’t want to put up any financial barriers to joining. If you can though, make a donation. The suggested amount is about £10 to £25.
From 2021, there will likely be a yearly subscription, but that along with everything else needs to be decided at the first AGM.
To make a payment from inside the UK, use the following details
Account name: British Sauna Society
Sort code: 30–91–91
Or, if you want to support from afar (like us here in Estonia), use this:
That account is held with TransferWise, which also happens to be the trendy startup I mentioned earlier that has a sauna for employees in their London office. I’ve previously written about their love of saunas here. We like to think it has something to do with their rapid success over recent years. We also use TransferWise for our Estonian sauna exporting business and we’ve managed to convince quite a few of our sauna partners and customers in the UK to start using them too. And, yes, I am mentioning all this in order to help convince TransferWise to be a founding sponsor of the charity! I just tweeted my pitch to them and I’ll keep you updated:
Step up and help organise the British Sauna Society
It’s early days for the charity, but they are starting to think of ways that members can take an active role in steering the organisation.
The first thing all members will get to do is join the Annual General Meeting and start voting for decisions that will shape the charity’s future. You can also volunteer as a candidate in trustee elections taking place there. (We also expect there will be a few good saunas at the AGM!)
In addition to that, you can volunteer for officer roles to lead projects such as establishing business partnerships, writing industry guidelines, organising events, growing the online presence and more.
Well done to sauna enthusiasts Mika, Katie, Mine, Nik, Vicky and Wendy for taking the initiative and getting the charity created! Everyone else, go support them!
Thanks for reading
In case you are wondering, Adam is both British and Estonian as his family fled to the UK from Soviet persecution. He grew up near that oldest sauna ever discovered and his family now live in the spa town of Harrogate, which has Royal Victorian baths inspired by the Ottomans.
You can also contact us at email@example.com.