infobox UK place
country = Wales
static_image_caption=Overview of the central plaza
latitude = 52.91778
longitude = -4.09293
Portmeirion is an
Italianateresort villagein Gwynedd, on the coast of Snowdoniain Wales. The village is located near Penrhyndeudraeth, on the estuaryof the River Dwyryd, two miles southeast of Porthmadog, and one mile from the railway station at Minffordd, which serves both the narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railwayand Arriva Trains Wales ( Cambrian Line).
Portmeirion has served as a location for films and television shows, most famously serving as "The Village" in "
Despite repeated claims that it was based on the town of
Portofino, Italy, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion's designer, denied this, stating only that he wanted to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean. He did, however, draw from a love of the Italian village stating, "How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Indeed its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site..." [ [http://www.heritage.co.uk/follies/ffxgy08.html Portmeirion ] ]
Williams-Ellis designed and constructed the village between 1925 and 1975. He incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects. Portmeirion's architectural
bricolageand deliberately fanciful nostalgiahave been noted as an influence on the development of postmodernismin architecture in the late twentieth century.
The main building of the hotel, and the cottages called "White Horses", "Mermaid" and "The Salutation" had been a private estate called "Aber Iâ" ( _cy. Ice estuary), developed in the 1850s, itself on the site of a foundry and boatyard which was active in the late 18th century. Williams-Ellis changed the name, which he interpreted as "frozen mouth", to Portmeirion - Port to place it on the coast, Meirion from the county of Merioneth / Meirionydd in which it then lay."Portmeirion" a BBC Wales documentary, 2006] . The very minor remains of a
mediaeval castle(known variously as Castell Deudraeth, Castell Gwain Goch and Castell Aber Iau) are in the woods just outside the village, recorded by Giraldus Cambrensis(Gerald of Wales) in 1188.
In 1931 Williams-Ellis bought from his uncle, Sir Osmund Williams Bt, the Victorian
castellatedmansion Castell Deudraeth with the intention of incorporating it into the Portmeirion hotel complex but the intervention of the war and other problems prevented this. Williams-Ellis had always considered the Castell to be “the largest and most imposing single building on the Portmeirion Estate" and sought ways to incorporate it. Eventually, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fundand the European Regional Development Fundas well as the Wales Tourist Board, his original aims were achieved and Castell Deudraeth was opened as an 11 bedroom hotel and restaurant on August 20 2001by Bryn Terfel.
The grounds contain an important collection of
rhododendrons and other exotic plants in a wild-garden setting which was begun before Williams-Ellis' time by the previous owner George Henry Caton Haigh and has continued to be developed since his death.
Portmeirion is now owned by a
charitable trust, and has always been run as a hotel, which uses the majority of the buildings as hotel rooms or self-catering cottages, together with shops, a cafe, tea-room and restaurant. Portmeirion is today a top touristattraction in North Wales [http://icnorthwales.icnetwork.co.uk/holidays/topten] and day visits can be made on payment of an admission charge.
Portmeirion in popular culture
The village of Portmeirion has been a source of inspiration for writers and television producers. For example,
Noel Cowardwrote " Blithe Spirit" while staying in the "Fountain 2" ("Upper Fountain") suite at Portmeirion. In 1956 the village was visited by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and other famous visitors have included Gregory Peck, Ingrid Bergmanand Paul McCartney. Musician Jools Hollandvisited whilst filming for TV music show "The Tube", and was so impressed that he has had his studio and other buildings at his home in Blackheath built to a design heavily inspired by Portmeirion.
Television series and films have filmed exterior shots at Portmeirion, often depicting the village as an exotic
European location. Examples of this include the 1960 " Danger Man" episode "View from the Villa" starring Patrick McGoohan, the 1976 four-episode " Doctor Who" story entitled " The Masque of Mandragora" set in RenaissanceItaly, and an episode of " Citizen Smith" in which the eponymous hero visits Rimini.
The best-known use of the location occurred in 1966-67 when McGoohan returned to Portmeirion to film exteriors for "
The Prisoner", a surrealspy drama in which Portmeirion itself played a starring role as "The Village". On request from Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion was not identified on screen as the filming location until the credits of the final episode of the series, and indeed Williams-Ellis has stated that the levy of a reasonable entrance fee was a deliberate ploy to prevent the village from being spoilt by overcrowding. The show became a cult classic, and fans continue to visit Portmeirion, which hosts annual "Prisoner" fan conventions. The building that was used as the lead character's home in the series currently operates as a "Prisoner"-themed souvenir shop. Many of the locations used in "The Prisoner" are virtually unchanged from the series, 40 years after production ended.
Due to its "Prisoner" connection, Portmeirion has been used as the filming location for a number of homages to the series, ranging from comedy skits to an episode of the
BBCdocumentary series " The Celts" which recreated scenes from "The Prisoner". In 1987 Jools Holland starred in a spoof documentary, "The Laughing Prisoner", with Stephen Fry, Terence Alexanderand Hugh Laurie. Much of it was shot on location in Portmeirion, and it included archive footage of McGoohan. In 2003 some scenes were filmed there for the final episode of the TV series " Cold Feet" [cite web | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2841059.stm |title=Portmeirion hosts Cold Feet finale | accessdate=2007-09-17] .
Portmeirion, along with
Morfa Bychan, was used as the location for the filming of the Supergrassvideo "Alright". The video includes numerous references to "The Prisoner". Iron Maidenrecorded a song called "The Prisoner" on its seminal album, "The Number of the Beast." In a documentary program about that album (as part of VH-1's "Classic Albums" series), lead singer Bruce Dickinsonwanders through the avenues of Portmeirion and describes how the song was written and how the band's manager obtained permission from Patrick McGoohan to use dialogue from the show in the song's introduction.
* [http://www.portmeirion-village.com/ Official website]
* [http://www.virtualportmeirion.com/ "Virtual Portmeirion" website]
* [http://www.portmeirion-history.co.uk/ History]
* [http://www.theunmutual.co.uk The Unmutual Prisoner & Portmeirion website]
* [http://users.rcn.com/gcapalbo/Tally.html Quicktime VR of the town of Portmeirion]
* [http://scotbot.smugmug.com/gallery/2317076_zhiKH Large gallery of Portmeirion photographs]
* [http://www.virtualmidlands.co.uk/demos/prisoner.htm 360 Interactive Images Of Portmeirion]
* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=3494295 www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Portmeirion and surrounding area]
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