If I were a British secret agent who had been gassed in my London apartment and transported to a location at the other end of the country, I can think of worse places to wake up than Portmeirion. This stunning location on the west coast of Wales will forever be associated with a quirky TV series first shown in 1967 called The Prisoner. The main character, No. 6 (I am not a number, I am a free man), played by Patrick McGoohan, has just resigned from his job as a secret agent and the "prison" he ends up in following the gassing, known simply as The Village, is set in Portmeirion which, with its incongruous but lovely Italianate architecture and features, makes a suitably offbeat location for this rather oddball series which explores issues around identity and control.
When I visited Portmeirion back in the 1980s it was a beautiful sunny day and I was completely entranced by the village, with its beautiful views of the Dwyryd Estuary and its elegant buildings and gardens. The village was the creation of an architect called Clough Williams-Ellis, and the inspiration for its appearance arose from a holiday in Portofino taken by the architect in the 1920s. There is a central piazza with food outlets and shops (including one, inevitably, selling Prisoner merchandise - I think I've still got my "I am not a number" teeshirt somewhere). Portmeirion is famous for its pottery, which is also on sale. There are lovely walks through the gardens and woods leading to a sandy beach. Fronting the estuary are a harbour and an upmarket hotel and self-catering cottages. The grounds of the estate include Castell Deudraeth, a Victorian mansion which offers further accommodation. A stay at Portmeirion will stretch the bank balace, but would make a wonderful venue for a special occastion such as an anniversary.
Map of the area.
|Photo by Lesbardd, via Wikimedia Commons|