Described by connoisseurs as an unforgettable experience, Southside House is a unique landmark on the south side of Wimbledon Common. Originally a farm in the Jacobean era, it was redone in William and Mary’s style and doubled towards the gardens during the Georgian period. Behind the beautiful façade, the old rooms still house much of the furniture brought from France by Hilda Pennington Mellor Munthe, who purchased the property in the 1930s.
A remarkable collection of art, photographs, chattels and quirky antiques summons a wealth of family stories from the Penningtons, as well as from charismatic doctor and author Axel Munthe, Hilda Pennington’s husband, whose book The Story of St Michele remains amongst the ten best-sellers of the 20th century. The house has associations with Queen Natalie of Serbia, the Duke of Wharton, Lady Hamilton, and others.
In the twentieth century, Southside was preserved in traditional style by Hilda and her son Malcolm, who led a life of extraordinary danger during the Second World War. An agent of the S.O.E in Nazi-occupied Scandinavia and a veteran of Anzio, Major Munthe retreated to Southside and painstakingly transformed the house into a safe haven for his family’s legacy and his own extraordinary storytelling.
Southside House and Hellens, the family’s country home in Herefordshire, serve their communities with concerts, lectures, educational activities, workshops, and literary evenings. The magical atmosphere of the house has offered inspiration to students, artists, and filmmakers, as well as to local residents and visitors from all over the UK and abroad.