Visiting Plas Brondanw today raises the issue of how seriously one should regard the long career of Clough Williams-Ellis as a semi-amateur, but talented architect – he only spent a few months at the Architectural Association which he found by looking it up in the telephone directory.
What I hadn’t properly realised was the extent to which Plas Brondanw became a centre of liberals on holiday, a kind of mountaineering version of Hampstead, with cottages leased to Bertrand Russell, a relation through Amabel, who was a Strachey, Eric Hobsbawm, E.P. Thompson et. al., all attracted to mountaineering and a kind of strenuous Welsh retreat. I always thought of him in terms of doing up posh houses in Oxfordshire, but maybe there is a different side to him.
2 thoughts on “Clough Williams-Ellis”
I had the sense that he was quite a serious figure in opposing inter-war horrors like ribbon development and rural billboards, in his books like England and the Octopus, and presumably contributing to early thinking about green belts. I think Portmeirion, where I stay often, is a work of architectural genius, quite an achievement given its deliberate frivolity.
Yes, an interestingly complex figure, who did a bit of modernism post-war (the café in Criccieth), as well as being an ardent and effective preservationists in the late 1920s. Charles