IT IS revered as a place of sanctuary and serenity, but it turns out there’s something in the wood shed.
The humble refuge at the bottom of the garden is no longer being used for wholesome tasks like potting or woodwork, but has become a den of iniquity, according to new research.
From stashing fattening snacks and cigarettes to storing risque love letters from old flames, sheds are used by Britons to keep secrets from their partners.
The survey of 1,500 shed owners found one in five people admitted spending time in their outbuildings to avoid their family, with the average person spending almost a year of their life in their timber hideaway.
According to the findings, 9 per cent of the 14 million shed owners across the country squirrel away sugary treats, with 8 per cent using them to hide tobacco products and 7 per cent hiding the receipts of potentially controversial shopping purchases.
Some 4 per cent said they kept love letters from a former partner while more than one in ten confessed to decamping to their shed to make secretive telephone calls.
The research, commissioned by paint manufacturer Cuprinol to kickstart its annual shed of the year competition, found 8 per cent of people would rather spend time in their shed than be intimate with their other half.
Kathryn Ledson, Cuprinol’s marketing manager, said: “It’s clear the nation are fanatical about sheds and view them as important extensions of the home, with many using them as secret getaways to store secrets or avoid loved ones.”
Contrary to popular belief that they are used to store the likes of pots, bikes, paint tins and general bric-a-brac, the survey also threw up some esoteric contents across the country’s sheds, which contain an average value of £457 of items.
Some said they used their sheds to store the likes of a human skeleton, a stuffed alligator and old breast implants.
Others said their shed was home to a camel’s head, a badger’s skull and wisdom teeth.
The research shows that many now see their sheds as an extension of their main property, with over a third featuring electricity and more than one in ten having some form of heating.
Taking the home comforts one step further, some 7 per cent of sheds have a television, while 5 per cent have a sofa. The survey even showed a minority of shed owners (2 per cent) have plumbed in a hot tub.
The industry is worth an estimated £5bn per year, with enthusiasts spending thousands on installing mod cons.
The top ten most unusual items kept in sheds, compiled as part of the shed of the year, are:
1 Relatives’ ashes
2 Human skeleton
3 Camel’s head
4 Stuffed alligator
5 Old breast implants
6 Photographs of an ex-partner
7 Tattoo gun
8 Badger’s skull
9 A gravestone
10 Wisdom teeth