Hard to beat Clough Williams-Ellis’s Morannedd Café at the end of the seafront at Criccieth for lunch: now run by Dylans, a small, but excellent chain; a piece of post-war modernism, when modernism was a style, like the baroque, and no longer daring, although it may have been in Criccieth:-
We have been to Lloyd George’s grave before – a shrine high above the Afon Dwyfor in amongst the woods, designed by Clough Williams-Ellis who lived nearby in a restrained classical style, lowkey, unlike the man himself:-
The museum nearby is also a shrine, full of portraits and relics, with an excellent introductory film and a spooky hologram:-
We went to see St. Cynhaearn, another church preserved by the Friends of Friendless Churches, close to Criccieth, but in the middle of fields with views across to Snowdonia, reached by a single track road which runs, if you follow Google, through a semi-derelict farmyard: as remote as can be and as beautiful:-
We look out towards the distant hills and observe the changing conditions of the light, day after day, always the same, but always different:-
An Easter pleasure is having received a copy of Owen Hatherley’s magnificent gazetteer, Modern Buildings in Britain, long awaited and recently published – a monumental description of all the most important modern (or modernist) buildings in the country, both scholarly and opinionated. Being in North Wales is an opportunity to test its coverage. He includes a long description of the theatre and halls of residence at Harlech, but not Clough Williams Ellis’s Morannedd Café on the seafront at Criccieth: he perhaps disapproves of Williams Ellis’s urbane form of superficial modernism and the fact that it was owned by Billy Butlin. He is a bit more generous than I would be to the recent alterations to Oriel Mostyn in Llandudno, which I remember as having somewhat compromised the integrity of the original Edwardian galleries at the back. He doesn’t include the Gwynedd County Hall in Caernarvon which I always think is one of the more interesting and unexpected pieces of 1980s design, inserted into the town in a way which is historically interesting without being too pastiche. On the other hand, he is impressively up-to-date in including the new Grimshaw building for the University of Bangor and Ty Bawb in Wrexham, only completed in 2019. From what I’ve read so far, it looks as if it will stimulate a great deal of visiting of out-of-the-way modern buildings, more like Nairn than Pevsner. So, many treats in store.
We have been to St. Eilian before, in the far north-east of Anglesey. But not when it has been open, so that we were able to see the fifteenth-century, beautifully carved wooden rood screen with its painted skeleton:-
Off to the side is a small chapel, dedicated to St. Eilian:-
The last time I tried to find the Old Church of St. Afran, St. Ieuan and St. Sannan in the fields north-east of Llantrisant, I got hopelessly lost in the farmland of central Anglesey. It is indeed hard to find, although now Google takes you nearly there. It is hard to imagine it at the heart of a community, with tombs up until the first world war, but now long deserted, surrounded by derelict cottages. There is a track down to it:-
Then a gate:-
And a cemetery full of slate tombs:-
And a baroque marble tomb:-
One is not used to such remoteness, even in remote Anglesey:-
We went for a walk down lanes lined by wild garlic:-
We have been promised that the Prime Minister will ‘set the record straight’ next week.
Of course, we know the basic gist of it. He got up unusually early and had to trek out to Hemel Hempstead, even though it was his birthday. When he was paid £250,000 a year for writing only one article a week, he could have lain in bed and spent time with his family. But now that he was Prime Minister, he is expected to go on ghastly outings to the remote suburbs. Luckily, Carrie had promised him a surprise party for when he got back with birthday cake and champagne. Something to look forward to, even though she had asked that ghastly next-door-neighbour to join them, as well as the lovely interior decorator who he half fancied. Then there was a family party to look forward to in the evening, with Dad, and his younger brother who he had made a peer – lucky him ! He had had to promise that it would be in the garden even though the weather forecast was terrible.
It’s a dog’s life as Prime Minister….
I’m relieved to discover that a lot of people share my dismay at the sheer scale of the proposed new development by Make next door to the National Theatre.
People are asking what, if anything, can be done.
First, there is an online petition which I hope people will sign (https://www.change.org/p/sos-save-our-south-bank?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=custom_url&recruited_by_id=077e1c50-7ab4-11ec-a251-25d62d5f2bdb&s=09).
Second, maybe the National Theatre might be able to help make more of a noise about it.
Third, I am sceptical that Michael Gove will approve of it. He is in charge of planning. He has the power to call it in. I hope he will exercise it.
Please help if you can.