If you’re familiar with the village of Portmeirion from the 1960′s TV show “The Prisoner,” you may be disappointed to learn that it’s not quite as bizarre as it seemed on screen.
I said not quite. It’s still a freaky trip, even for the soberest brain.
Watch this clip past the credit sequence for a hearty dose of WTF – three letters that summarize Portmeirion rather well.
His name: Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis.
His face: seen in stone, below.
Clough thought of the project as a “home for fallen buildings,” rescuing unwanted statues, stained glass windows and large structural gems from abandonment and/or destruction, and incorporating them into the architectural collage that is Portmeirion. The most impressive acquisition was a Jacobean ceiling, panelling and mullioned windows that he saved from a stately home that was slated for demolition. The room is completely reconstructed within Portmeirion’s “Town Hall.”
While it is laid out like a village, nobody actually lives in Portmeirion. It’s more of a resort – a resort you’d visit in a strange dream – accommodating up to 200 guests. There are restaurants, cafés, shops and a spa on site. It is also home to Portmeirion Pottery, which was designed by Clough’s daughter.
By the way, the weird zooms in the show may be outdated, but “The Prisoner” cash cow is still going strong – there is an entire “Prisoner” gift shop on the premises where you can score a black-and-white jacket just like Patrick McGoohan wore. You can also catch episodes on your hotel room TV set, which is thankfully much more modern than the program itself.
Pretty much every building you see actually houses guest quarters, which makes for a lot of variety. Would you prefer to stay in The Pantheon, The Gate House or “Neptune?” There’d better be a damn fine shower in Neptune, if you ask me.
This one, “The Watch House,” with its view over the estuary, is the most popular.
It’s all very odd – perhaps a bit too intentional for a real history buff. At the same time, you have to appreciate Clough’s dedication to creating something so grandiose and extraordinary.
Unlike The Prisoner, you’re free to leave Portmeirion at any time. But it’s hard not to feel like you’re being watched….
Travel arrangements courtesy of Visit Wales.