I’ve chosen to wander to the village of Portmeirion, North Wales, this week. There are a couple of reasons for doing so; one, it’s a pretty interesting place and, two, it’s fifty years ago this week since filming started on cult television series The Prisoner, which used the village as its backdrop.
The Prisoner starred Patrick McGoohan as a man known only as Number Six, held prisoner in the village for reasons that remain unclear. Every week he would try to escape, and every week he would fail. The other residents of the village were also known by numbers, rather than names, and huge white balloons called Rovers floated about, preventing the inhabitants from escaping. (For more info, check out this BBC News website article). While the show only ran for seventeen episodes, it became a cult classic – Prisoner conventions are held at the village every year, and the annual music festival is called Number Six, in homage to McGoohan’s character.
But even without the bizarre alternate world of The Prisoner, Portmeirion is, as I said, a rather interesting place. Built between 1925 and 1975, it is the brainchild of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who wanted to create an homage to the Mediterranean coast. However, this particular slice of Italianate heaven is set on the rather less balmy, yet no less beautiful, North Welsh coast, where the sea shines silver under rolling clouds, mountains stretching green into the distance.
The lush gardens and buildings have inspired many writers and musicians over the years – Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit while staying there, while Iron Maiden wrote a song called The Prisoner which included a sample of dialogue from the show. The village has also featured in videos for Supergrass, XTC and Siouxsie & The Banshees, to name a few, as well as being used in film and TV productions including Doctor Who and Cold Feet. Frank Lloyd Wright, the esteemed architect (and one of my favourites) visited the village in 1959 – the list goes on…
I first visited Portmeirion as a child then, later, returned as an adult. It was as magical as I remembered, even on a cloudy day – the colours and shapes beautiful against the lush green shrubbery. And, hidden among the trees, my friend and I found a small pet cemetery complete with gravestones – a poignant reminder of the family who owned and lived in the village for many years. Now Portmeirion is owned by a charitable trust and you can stay in the village itself, as most of the buildings were designed, and have always been used as, a hotel and self-catering cottages. I think it might be an ideal place to go for a writing retreat – anyone interested? 😀
Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!
Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA.
Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂
A writing retreat there would be a bit of magic, wouldn’t it. 🙂
It would indeed! I think I might have to find out more about their accommodation… 🙂
🙂 I like that idea. Now, if you do end up having a retreat there I’ll need to start dreaming up ways to make and save money to afford such a wonderful trip. 🙂 I tell myself ‘someday, Rachael, someday.’
Well, it struck me it would be a great place to do something like that. But I get it about the travel, absolutely. And, knowing me, it will take me forever to sort anything out – if I ever do, I’ll give you plenty of notice, just in case… 🙂 Someday, indeed…
This wouldn’t have anything to do with your Ambeth stories, would it? That garden with the pond makes me think of a particular scene in Hills and Valleys…
Oh, and YES! I want to come on that writing retreat!
Excellent! If I ever get around to setting one up, I’ll let you know 🙂
Well, it’s been funny going back through photos for these Wednesday Wanders, because I’m starting to see little bits and pieces of places I’ve cobbled together to make Ambeth. Certainly Portmeirion is part of it, especially the gardens. Interesting how the mind takes things and makes something new…
Beautiful place. It would make a great place to spend some writing time.
It would, wouldn’t it? The idea came to me as I was writing the post, and now it’s something I really want to make reality 🙂
I hope you get to do it.
Thanks, Craig – I’ll let you know if I ever arrange a retreat there 🙂
I learned a new word today – Italianate! I love this village. Great post. I also checked out The Prisoner link and I think they should put that on Netflix! I’d totally watch it.
Thanks, Kristin 🙂 And I know, now I want to watch Prisoner again (I only saw bits of it years ago) – maybe we should start a petition… ;-D
Yes! Or a hashtag hahaha!
#theprisoner4life haha! 😀
Yessss! Hahaha 😀
Ah, you’ve brought back some magical memories for me. It’s been years, but my visit there is so clear in my mind – its the sort of place you truly don’t forget. I went as a ‘Prisoner’ fan, and discovered so much more.
Thanks, Deborah – it is quite a magical place, isn’t it? It’s a bit like walking into a dream 🙂
A slightly psychedelic one 😉
Now I’m very intrigued about your time there… 😉
OMG! Loved The Prisoner! They showed it on Crackle and Lex and I loved it. Big fan of Patrick McGoohan who lived here in Southern California before he passed away. Would love to go there someday.
Oh, I hope you get to visit one day! It’s a gorgeous place 🙂 And now I want to watch The Prisoner again – I only saw bits of it years ago.
I love Wales but haven’t been here. Count me in for a retreat! ❤ 🙂
Wow this is amazing – I didn’t even know that it existed! And a writing retreat? Yes!!!
It’s such a cool place. And, guess what, I looked into it and you can rent the cottages and live in the village – how cool would that be? 🙂
It is a remarkable place. I visited once, and it has a unique atmosphere.
Yes, remarkable is a great way to describe it. And it’s definitely unique 🙂
A writing retreat, there, sounds a wonderful idea. We also have it in mind for a future Silent Eye weekend – one with a psychological backbone rather than an ancient sites one.
It’s a rather unusual place, isn’t it? I hadn’t thought about a retreat there until I started writing about it. Now I’ve even looked into accommodation – there are some splendid self-catering cottages there. Plus it’s in Wales, always a bonus 🙂
it looks beautiful and I’d kill for a writing retreat! 🙂
Thanks Sacha! I know, right? Now that I’ve suggested it I’ve already started checking out cottages – we can make this happen, I reckon (in a while, but one day at least!)
Maybe next year?
It’s a thought, hey? I found a cottage there that sleeps six and backs onto the bookshop – sounds perfect to me! And it’s right in the village, one of the original places built there. Self catering… 🙂
I do remember watching that series years ago. Beautiful part of the world. Thank you.
It is a beautiful place, isn’t it? Thanks for your comment 🙂