Described by connoisseurs as an unforgettable experience,Southside House provides an enchantingly eccentric backdrop to the lives and loves of generations of the Pennington Mellor Munthe families. Maintained in traditional style without intrusive refurbishment and crowded with family possessions of centuries, Southside offers a wealth of fascinating family stories. Southside has associations with Queen Natalie of Serbia and her son Alexander, and the family also have mementos from the Duke of Wharton, Lady Hamilton and others.
Southside was re-fashioned in the William and Mary style, and behind the long fašade are the old rooms, still with much of the furniture which the Penningtons brought here, and a superb collection of art and historical objects reflecting centuries of ownership. John Pennington's great granddaughter Hilda, married Axel Munthe, the charismatic Swedish doctor whose most famous book,The Story of St Michele, briefly outsold the bible and remains amongst the ten best sellers of the 20th century.
The preservation of the house was left to Hilda Pennington Munthe and her youngest son, Malcom, who led a life of extraordinary adventure during the Second World War. A member of the S.O.E, Major Munthe worked behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Scandinavia, and took part in the Allied landings at Anzio. Suffering from war wounds, the reclusive Major eventually retreated to the safe haven of Southside, which he painstakingly restored and transformed into a stage on which his perceptions of family history were presented. He devoted the same energy to preserving Hellens, the family's country home in Herefordshire, also open to the public: www.hellensmanor.com
Royal visit by HRH the Duke of Gloucester
Malcolm Munthe's surviving children continue to cherish Southside House and Hellens through the Pennington-Mellor-Munthe Charity Trust. Both houses serve their communities, with concerts, lectures, educational activities, workshops and literary evenings, as well as guided tours. The experiences offered by this magical house and gardens can inspire the unusual, adventurous and unexpected. Sixth form A level art students use the house as a creative resource, as have groups from the Battersea Arts Centre and Wimbledon College of Art. Children from primary schools experience domestic history in the context of a lived-in family home: we hold a children's charity Christmas party each year, as well as summer holiday workshops, and young musicians attend masterclasses, workshops, and give recitals here. Local chamber music groups also perform at the house, and our atmospheric music room is the setting for a wide variety of events in the Wimbledon BookFest and the newly established Wimbledon Music Festival.
One of our candlelit tours - in the Dining Room
The Staircase Hall
Our patron HRH Princess Alexandra with Southside guide Pat Donald at the re-opening of the house in November 2011