April 4, 2016

Portmeirion: Not Just the China!

You may know the name of Portmeirion from their iconic china patterns – the botanic prints surrounded by herb leaves. But there’s another side to the business, which you might know from the 1960’s BBC cult classic, The Prisoner. IMG_9279Amazingly, it’s a small Italian-style village nestled into the sea-front in North Wales. I’d heard about this place when I lived in Wales, but never had the opportunity to visit. I decided to make the trip north, and at the suggestion of friends, I booked in for dinner, an overnight stay and then breakfast on site.IMG_9273

While most of the local architecture of Wales is stone and slate, the buildings in Portmeirion are pastel wedding cakes! Originally constructed in the 1920’s in the Arts & Crafts style, the village evolved after WWII and until the 1970’s in more of a Palladian style, one of my favourites! IMG_9302The architect was Clough Williams-Ellis, who had conceived the village as a whole and executed the plans he been devising for years.IMG_9223IMG_9233IMG_9249

The village is unoccupied, but guests can stay in the flats and villas. There’s also a sea-front hotel, and some shops and cafes, and the village also owns a castle up the road. From staying under a huge domed building overlooking the village to the campanile overlooking the sea, each lodging is unique. IMG_9310

I stayed in a flat above a bridge, and one side looked seaward, and the other toward the village. This was my entrance, with my little rental car.IMG_9300My rooms were the three windows above the arch. IMG_9216

The village is ornamented in every conceivable way. Urns, statuary, gilding, festooning, gardooning and much more adorn every building. And the colours, especially the signature turquoise, are gorgeous.IMG_9212IMG_9235IMG_9242IMG_9250IMG_9295IMG_9351IMG_9356IMG_9257

While no one actually lives in the village, it was abuzz with the sounds of workmen preparing it for the main tourist season and everything was glistening with a fresh coat of paint!IMG_9337

I had such fun wandering around the village, marvelling at the myriad details and admiring the thought and care that went into building this special place. Everywhere I turned, I found something that captured my attention. IMG_9217IMG_9218IMG_9229IMG_9246IMG_9258IMG_9336IMG_9360

I am so glad I made the drive, about 150+ miles, to visit and spend time there. It was truly magical, and I can’t recommend it enough! IMG_9307

For more information on Portmeirion, please click here. And I will just leave you with the words of the founder, which resonated with me. IMG_9204

This was on the personal welcome letter I received upon my arrival.

18 comments:

  1. I have read about this for years! You are the first I have "known" (only virtually) who has visited! It seems so wonderful!
    Why is it uninhabited? And how on earth did you find a way to stay there? My goodness! What a fascinating tale!!

    It is an unoccupied village that was the dream of the founder? Yikes! No one lives there?

    What a story!!!

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    1. It's sort of like a private hotel... open to the public to visit and view the gardens, but the staff all live in the surrounding villages.

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  2. I have never been but your pics piqued my interest on IG. Even in the grey sky the place still looks lovely! I'm now thinking of making a trip this year. Hope you rested up now and no jet lag xx

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    1. It's a gorgeous drive up there. Friends from London went and recommended it to me. So glad I made the effort.

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  3. I love your blog, I learn something new and travel to places vicariously through you, thanks!

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  4. Fascinating post. I remember the wonderful series "The Prisoner" starring Patrick McGoohan (I think). Don't know if it was shot in black and white or that we did not own a color t.v. I can't decide if the mood and strangeness of the show was better suited to black and white.

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    1. Early 1960's, so probably in black & white.

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  5. how does this village relate to the china? i am enamoured with it and have a ton. it makes such a beautiful table setting. thank you for the info on the village -- just beautiful! you must have had such a wonderful time as it appears to be a major treat for anyone who is visual.

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    1. Clough Williams-Ellis's daughter owns the china company, both of which have the same name.

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  6. Can't decide if I love or hate this place - it looks so very odd! Perhaps on a bright sunny day the colors wouldn't look so incongruous. Definitely love the fact that Clough William-Ellis was able to bring his vision to fruition though. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It is odd, but like many unique things, it was one man's personal quest to build it. It brings a lot of tourism to the area. I almost liked it better in the overcast Welsh weather because of the contrast the buildings made.

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  7. Replies
    1. It really was fun! I am glad that I made the effort to visit.

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  8. I remember The Prisoner! And admire the china. Always a pleasure to travel vicariously with you!

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    1. Funny conjunction of disparate things!

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  9. So lovely Meg. Love the colors and architecture, unique and fun!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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  10. My brother and sister-in-law have every piece made by the company and it's great fun to have dinner with them! Your trip was outstanding and one that I would definitely enjoy -- especially when Baltimore is having snow storms followed by rain, etc.
    So glad you had a great time and delighted you're home safe.
    Rosemary

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