Welsh Witterings; A Prisoner for a Day in Portmeirion Village
Seren visits Portmeirion Village in North Wales.
Portmeirion village, located just outside the Snowdonia National Park boundaries in North Wales is a dreamlike hideaway. Once you enter the village it feels as if you have entered the portal of an otherworldly space. To say that it is unique does not adequately sum up Portmeirion for to enter this matchless village is to take a step into a flamboyant imagination and to see what can be achieved when we work outside of convention.
Portmeirion village is a challenge to reality and once inside its walls it is hard to believe that you are still in Britain, parts of it feel like a faraway land that you have only glimpsed in the eye of your childhood imagination. As you meander around gazing at the pastel shaded façades you feel as you could be in Italy and then as you enter Hercules Hall you are transported to a Baronial Mansion. Williams-Ellis’ clever use of arches, slopes and window sizes makes it a perfect folly, where nothing is quite as it seems and everything seems larger than it really is. Indeed Portmeirion Village is unquantifiable and nothing less than extraordinary.
There is plenty to admire from the Gothic Pavilion, Bristol Colonnade, Hercules Hall and Belvedere. Statues, corbels and fanciful details are secreted in every nook and cranny. Portmeirion village is not a place, but another world and one in which anything seems possible, indeed it would not seem unfitting nor incredulous to see the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter nor Alice wandering across the chessboard for it is as curious as anything written by Lewis Carol.
Portmeirion Village is by no means sprawling yet its size proves no obstacle to this little bubble of madness. Riviera inspired houses, ornamental garden and campanile make it the perfect escape for the minds eye and it is no surprise that that it has gained an enviable place in popular culture. With the iconic 1960’s spy drama, The Prisoner being the most notable programme to use Portmeirion as a filming location. Portmeirion played the role of ‘’the village’’ in the 60’s cult classic, which first aired in 1967 and saw the character of a resigned British Intelligence Spy incarcerated and interrogated in the confines of ‘’the village’’ with it beautiful and well manicured appearance hinting that beyond it pretty and benign appearance there was something darker and more sinister at play. Decades on and many of the locations used to film scenes of The Prisoner remain unchanged and fans continue to make pilgrimage to the films location. The architectural irony and pastiche that emanate from the village have served to inspire the likes of Jools Holland, Noel Coward, Paul McCartney, Steven Fry, Supergrass and Iron Maiden in recent times whilst the walls reverberate the memories of Frank Lloyd Wright, Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman.
It’s architect and creator Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, was dedicated environmentalist who wanted to create a functional and inspired private village that would act as ‘propaganda for good manners’. The village of Portmeirion was created in 1926 from a redundant site and today the site still echoes his quirky imagination and sentiment.
Whether you are looking to get away from the world, want to retrace the steps of Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner or are looking for an unusual day out with the family, it is certain that Portmerion Village has something for everyone.
Indeed if you’re looking for a day out somewhere memorable then Portmeirion will not disappoint. It’s a quixotic village with a sandy beach on the coast of Snowdonia, coastal walks, 70 acres of woodland with easy to follow woodland trails, land train, Mediterranean inspired buildings, lots of cafes and restaurants to relax in and plenty of history and architectural detail to absorb.
For more information on visiting Portmeirion Village pop onto their website www.portmeirion.wales they’ll be seeing you.