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The United Kingdom of Generally Bonkers

British architect Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis loved the Italian Riviera so much that he built his very own entire Italian fishing village. In Wales.

It took him fifty years (1925 – 1975). You’ve probably seen it — it’s been used as a TV and movie set a gazillion times, most memorably as ‘The Village’ in The Prisoner. When old Sir Bertram died, he had hisself cremated and made into a rocket, which burst over Portmeirion twenty years later in a fireworks display.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

Four years ago, groundskeepers at the (genuine) 12th Century castle at Portemeirion felled a tree to widen a path and left the dead tree there. Within months, persons unknown had hammered it full of coins. Mostly modern two pence pieces. Like, taken a rock and smashed it against a coin until it was deeply embedded in the trunk. Or, rather, thousands of them.

There are now seven trees on the grounds similarly encrusted in copper.

The estate manager swears he didn’t start it, hasn’t advertised it and has no idea who’s doing it. He did some digging around, though, and discovered there’s a British tradition of ‘wishing trees’ — kind of like wishing wells — dating back at least to the 18th Century.

So. Huh.

January 3, 2012 — 10:53 pm
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