The Times called Portmeirion the last folly of the Western World while The Guardian saw it as a giant gnomes' village. For eccentric architect Clough Williams-Ellis, the man who designed and built the resort, it was propaganda for good manners, a statement of how planned development could enhance rather than destroy its environment. And for the quarter of a million visitors a year who make the trip to this Italianate village in North-West Wales, it is quite simply one of the most magical places on Earth. It was here Noel Coward wrote his comedy Blithe Spirit , Patrick McGoohan filmed the legendary 1960s TV series The Prisoner and George Harrison celebrated his 50th birthday. It is the kind of place where Larry Adler gave informal concerts to other guests and hotel staff, Ingrid Bergman could be found talking movies with Bertrand Russell, and where royalty - from Edward VIII to King Zog of Albania - would join the general public in seeking escape from the modern world.