When you’re next out and about in Wimbledon, make sure you check out the incredible Southside House….
A 17th century house situated on the south side of the common, this majestic building was initially built for Robert Pennington, who was exiled with Charles II (otherwise known as the Merry Monarch) in Holland. In 1687, Pennington left London and went to Holme Farm in Wimbledon – which was a village located several miles from the UK capital. Dutch architects built the house and incorporated the original farmhouse into the design. There are famously two niches either side of the front door containing statues of Plenty and Spring – said to bear the likeness of Pennington’s wife and daughter.
Artefacts and famous visitors
The house has been maintained in traditional style and over the years has been crammed with family possessions of the past centuries. The building was re-fashioned in the style of William and Mary and has an exquisite collection of art and historical objects. Inside there are many examples of 17th century furniture and memorabilia, with the musick room prepared for the entertainment of Frederick Prince of Wales, who visited in 1750. Other visitors included Lord Nelson, Sir William Hamilton and Emma, Lady Hamilton and poet Lord Byron.
Southside House is a backdrop to the lives of generations of the Pennington Mellor Munthe families and has associations with Queen Natalie of Serbia and her son Alexander as well as mementos from the Duke of Wharton. Through the generations, the house was passed down and eventually came into the possession of Malcolm Munthe, the son of Hilda Pennington-Mellor and Axel Munthe, a famous doctor who wrote the famous The Story of St Michele. Malcolm led a life of mad adventure during the Second World War, working behind enemy lines in Nazi-occuped Scandinavia. Eventually the Major retreated to Southside, which he restored into a stage on which his ideas about family history were presented.
These days Southside House is still run by Robert Pennington’s descendants, as a residence and a museum, administered by the Pennington-Mellor-Munthe Charity Trust. There are also many tour groups and cultural events hosted, such as lectures and concerts. Children from local schools use the house as a creative resource and there’s a children’s charity Christmas party each year. Local chamber music groups also regularly perform at Southside.
The house is open from Easter Saturday to the last Sunday in September, on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. There are Guided Tours on Wednesday afternoons at 2 pm and 3 pm and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2 pm and 3 pm. Gates open 20 minutes before each tour and visitors must book and pay for tours online.
We hope you enjoy your time visiting Southside House – one of the most beautiful landmarks in the area.