There are those who dream and those who act upon their dreams. Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who claimed descent from Gruffydd ap Cynan, a 12th century Welsh king, was one of the latter. His dream was to create a village on the fertile Snowdonia coast of Wales and model it on the Italian Riviera town of Portofino.
Today Portmerion is one of Wales's most intriguing attractions. It has been called weird, batty, a monumental joke, a ridiculous Welsh fantasy, and even a take on Disney World.
Its fifty buildings – all habitable, each with a unique theme and ranging in hue from peach to cinnamon, turquoise, French blue, terra cotta, orange and sunshine yellow - would fit well in Mexico, Spain or even India.
The architectural style is eclectic: a bell tower complete with a chiming clock rescued from a brewery about to be demolished, a town hall in the Arts-and-Crafts style with mullioned windows from Emral Hall, home of the Puleston family for seven centuries, a colonnade built in Bristol in 1760, transported and rebuilt in Portmeiron in 1959, an Italian piazza and Romeo and Juliet balconies. Leaning from a terrace overlooking the sea, a ceramic Shakespeare adds a whimsical touch.
A visit to Portmeirion, a strange but wonderful place, provides a tantalizing glimpse into the mind of Sir Clough.
Photo copyright Anne Gordon
Posted on Thursday, 5th April, 2012