Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
Portmeirion Town Hall  


Unitary Authority
Street Side
Facing the Angel and Angel Gates at the western edge of the village group; set against the hill slope.  


Broad Class

Portmeirion was designed and laid out by the cellebrated architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis (1883-1978) following his purchase of the estate, then called Aber Iâ, in 1926. The village evolved over several decades and was still being added to in the 1970s. The town Hall, also known as Hercules Hall, was built between 1937 and 1938 and incorporates a large quantity of dressed and carved stonework from Emral Hall, Flintshire, the former seat of the illustrious Puleston family. Most significantly, the building houses the famous Hercules Hall which Clough Williams-Ellis bought at auction shortly before the house's demolition. The Hercules Hall is essentially the early C17 Great Chamber from Emral which was reconstructed in its present form complete with its exceptionally fine vaulted plasterwork ceiling and later C17 panelling. The relief plasterwork depicts the Labours of Hercules and the signs of the Zodiac and is enriched with bold strapwork. In its quality and complexity the Emral ceiling belongs to the finest examples of late Elizabethan and Jacobean plasterwork in Britain and can be favourably paralleled with the schemes at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire and Lanhydrock House, Cornwall. Externally, large transmullioned windows, heraldic cartouches and Tudor-arched doorways also belong to the former Emral Hall. The Portmeirion Town Hall represents perhaps CWE's most inspired and successful example of that class of re-use architecture he can be said to have made his own, and which can be seen as one of the predominent leit-motifs of Portmeirion village.  

Imposing 2-storey building of essentially C17 character. Of stuccoed brick and rubble construction with sandstone quoins, dressings and embellishments; tiled roof with slab-coped gable parapets and moulded stone eaves. F-shaped plan, with storeyed projecting wings to the centre and left (SE) side. In the centre wing is an early C17 Tudor-arched entrance with moulded label, accessed via 8 steps ascending up into the lower floor. Over this is a large mullioned and transomed 5 x 3 light window with 3-light returns and leaded panes. An heraldic stone cartouche with the Puleston arms is attached between the top of the entrance and this window; there are other heraldic plaques to both left and right of this projecting bay. The ground floor has mullioned windows to both left and right. Both bays have Jacobean entrances to their returns, with a connecting path running laterally from L to R. On the left, extruded in the corner of the SE bay, is a wide lateral chimney with old brick upper section; arched niche at the ground-floor level of the stack containing an oculus with oval ironwork grille (originally from the Old Bank of England). To the R on the first floor of the main elevation is a projecting semi-circular stone balcony supported on scrolled brackets; slightly convex iron balustrade. A small arched entrance with multi-pane glazed door leads onto it. Beyond this, on the far R, is an iron hanging sign with painted shield. The SE projecting bay has a window similar to that at the centre, with an arched opening underneath with chevron-boarded doors. Between the floors are 3 open rectangular lights, that to the centre with Jacobean strapwork surround; decorative iron hanging sign above. The SE and NW gable ends have similar large transmullioned windows each of 9 x 3 lights; the latter has a square louvred light above. The SE bay has a small hipped roof of red pantiles. The central bay is surmounted by a stone balustrade. Behind this, and completing the whole composition, is a low square tower with a round arched French window to the front and a glazed oculus above. The tower is topped by a shaped tiled roof terminating in a white square lantern surmounted by a copper crown and ball (their base an up-turned copper wash boiler). Adjoining the SE gable end, stepped-down and set back, is a single-storey modern extension with rendered elevations and a slate roof. This has small-pane French doors to the R and 3 similar tall windows to the L of its main (E) elevation. This block inter-communicates with the upper floor of the main building and faces a balustraded terrace on the E side. Adjoining the main block at the NW corner, and partly overlapping it to the rear, is the cafeteria building. This is a long single-storey block raised up on a balustraded terrace with sweeping ramped access points to the L and R; Rendered main (road-facing) facade with 5 large arches; of these the outer ones are glazed entrances, the remainder windows; small-pane glazing and rusticated stucco surrounds with decorative keystones.  

The main (upper) floor has a lobby with old parquet floor. This give onto the Hercules Hall via an arched central entrance with moulded oak archivolt and fluted key; 4-panel double doors with panelled soffit and splays, all fielded. The Hercules Hall is a large L-shaped, barrel-vaulted chamber with a large transmullioned window occupying the majority of the end wall; a similar glazed bay leads off to the L to produce the L-plan. Large-field oak panelling of c1690, bolection-moulded and with dentilated and heavily-moulded cornice. Opposite the projecting bay on the R wall is an entrance similar to the main doorway. Both have flanking fluted Corinthian pilasters to their inner faces (the former missing its volutes). On the opposite wall is a fireplace with similar flanking pilasters and a low rectangular sandstone surround. Above is a Jacobean plasterwork overmantel depicting a female deity or personification. The fine vaulted ceiling has relief plasterwork scenes depicting the Labours of Hercules and the Signs of the Zodiac. The contemporary segmental friezes at the chamber's ends depict a hunting scene, and (above the entrance) four female Virtues and Vices. Beyond the Hercules Hall is a narrow gallery which links the cafeteria block with SW block. The latter has a small hall with plain canted ceiling. Its walls are panelled with large-field mid-C19 oak panelling, formerly the panelling of the dining room at Castell Deudraeth. This has heavily-moulded architraves, fielded panels and thin moulded cornice; depressed-arched (buffet) niche to rear wall with outer flanking doorways. These have 4-panel doors incorporating (in the lower panels) four C16 Renaissance relief panels, probably French.  

Reason for designation
Listed Grade I for the national importance of the Jacobean Hercules Hall plasterwork which, together with much of the fabric, represent the surviving elements of Emral Hall, Flintshire, the ancient seat of the illustrious Puleston family; significant also as a masterfully-conceived example of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis eclectic and incorporative style of architecture, and forming a dominant statement in this visionary village. Group value with other listed items at Portmeirion.  

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