"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Friday, 23 June 2017

North Wales - Part 2: Portmeirion

After leaving Plas Brondanw we drove straight to Portmeirion to book into the hotel.

Reception even has a Prisoner chair!

We had booked to stay in a serviced suite in Upper Fountains about 25 yards from the hotel. It has a fascinating history as Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit in this very suite. In 1941 he had decided to write a comedy but he found the noise from the Blitz in London stopped him writing so he travelled by train to Portimeirion staying in Fountains and wrote the play in 5 days! The play opened soon after at The Piccadilly Theatre.

Fountains is to the right of the photo

Beautiful views of the estuary

How civilised is this - awaiting us in the suite :)

The suite consisted of a sitting area (with a mini kitchen), bedroom and en suite bathroom and had stunning views over the hotel lawn and pool towards the estuary.

Early evening and we went a walk round the village - very quiet and peaceful once the day visitors had departed just leaving hotel residents and people staying in the self catering cottages scattered around.

Portmeirion was built by Clough Williams-Ellis after he bought the estate in 1925 for around £5,000. He changed the name from Aber la (glacial estuary) to Portmeirion. His plan was to build a coastal village which enhanced rather than spoilt the landscape. It was built in stages between 1925 and 1939 and from 1954 to 1976. Today all buildings are registered as Grade 1 or Grade II historic buildings. It is surrounded by 70 acres of garden woodland which are well worth exploring because they are full of hidden surprises.

Portmeirion was used for the filming of the 1960's tv series "The Prisoner" which starred Patrick McGoohan.

The Town Hall (also called Hercules Hall) is an Arts and Craft style village hall. In "The Prisoner" it features in the episode "Free for All".

The statue of Hercules by William Brodie in the foreground with the Green Dome in the background.

The Dolphin Pool

The Bristol Colonnade - in the tv series it was associated with brass band concerts.

The Pantheon or Dome - an octagonal building with a dome and octagonal cupola. In "The Prisoner" it was the seat of power for the village's Number Two and just across the square from Number 6's residence.

The Gothic Arch - seen in the village during marching parades. No. 6 walked through its trifoliate archway in "Checkmate" where he sees the human chess match. There is now a permanent giant chessboard on display.

Piazza, Gloriette and Fountain - these were built on the site of an old tennis court. This is the centre of The Prisoner's village. The Fountain pool is signposted as "free sea" - it is from this pool that we first see Rover. Many parades in the series were filmed round this area. No. 6 made a speech from The Gloriette in "Free for All" when he was standing for the office of Number 2.

The Prisoner's House and Lady's Lodge

A wooden statue depicting "Charity" - late 17th or early 18th century.

This building (the Ship Shop) was used as The Labour Exchange in the tv series.

Later in the evening it was time to return to the hotel for our evening meal. The hotel dates back to 1850 and was extended in 1926 and 1930 and restored in 1988. It was the original manor at Aber la and opened as a hotel initially in 1926. It was the Old People's Home in the Prisoner and the lawn in front of the hotel was the helicopter landing pad.

The meal was superb - two starters, main course and dessert. The combination of flavours in all courses was out of this world. I didn't have the nerve to take the camera but got B to take a photo of the puddings with his phone.

Strawberry tonka bean mille feuille with liquorice ice cream and

the Hotel's version of Black Forest Gateau.

The service throughout the meal was excellent and the welcome and help by all staff in the hotel throughout the stay was brilliant. I could get used to stopping here!!

More of Portmeirion in the next post and a trip to see Ospreys (thanks again Rosie for the tip!).


Deborah RusticPumpkin said...

Goodness, you certainly did Portmeirion in style! I was not a fan of The Prisoner, but what a treat it must have been for your husband as a fan.

Ragged Robin said...

Deborah RusticPumpkin - Thank you - yes it was a brilliant idea of my daughter's to treat him for his special birthday. Would love to stay there again - might look into the self catering cottages there out of season.

Rosie said...

How lovely to stay in the village and have it almost all to yourselves to wander around in the evenings and take photos without feeling you are in someone's way or indeed they in yours; both times we've been it has been very hot and very busy. The hotel looks wonderful and the views out to the estuary are beautiful. It's such a fascinating place, so glad you had a brilliant time:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much. We've always wanted to stay there to enjoy it in more solitude - came close about 30 years ago to having a self catering cottage for a weekend in December but for some reason we changed our mind. We walked round again the next morning when it was open and as you say it was horrendously busy. They used to have high prices to limit numbers I think but I suspect that is no longer the case. It was hot too - sadly, far too hot for me!!

But yes it really is an amazing place. Was hoping to walk along the estuary and back through the woods but temps were just too high. The woods are full of hidden treasures and you could spend a day alone there just exploring. I hope we can go back and stay again.

amanda peters said...

It's such a stunning place so much to see and take in, we would both like it here. All the buildings are wonderful , the Dome. Your photos are lovely showing what a place it is. The food looks rather good too, shame it was so hot and you didn't get to stay another night.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much Amanda. It is a super place and very photogenic and yes I am sure you would both love it there. There is a lot to do and see in the local area as well.

Pam said...

What a place, I don't really know The Prisoner but it looks very cool to visit regardless!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks Pam. Yes, it is a superb place to visit whether you are a Prisoner fan or not :)

Coquetnaturelover said...

What an interesting blog - it brought back memories of my visit there over thirty years ago. It was just a day trip. Your hotel looks great - that's the way to do it! The poppies where I live have all finished now; I think the heavy rain a few weeks back must have finished them off so it's been lovely to see your wonderful poppy photos too :) Cathy

Ragged Robin said...

Coquetnaturelover - Thanks so much. Our past visits have just been day trips too - it is such a magical place :) Glad you liked the poppies - we are fortunate still flowering here - in garden mini wildflower meadow and when out and about :)

Millymollymandy said...

I don't know the TV series and I believe I visited here when I was very young but don't remember it at all. However it looks really interesting and what a lovely surprise present for your husband! Glad you enjoyed it, and licorice ice cream sounds really interesting and yummy! I was given a Portmeirion place mat set as a wedding present, and years before a milk jug from that set too! :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much. It was certainly a present with a difference and I got to share it :) I've often wished I'd started collecting Portmeirion pottery when we first got married - might have completed a tea and dinner service by now :) It is beautiful stuff.