07.04.2015
14:12

Southside House

Address:

3–4 Woodhayes Road, Wimbledon Common, SW19 4RJ

Phone:

020-8946 7643

Website:

www.southsidehouse.com

Opening times:

Easter–end Sept Wed, Sat, Sun and bank holidays for 60-min guided tours. Tours at 14:00, 15:30. No need to pre-book, but phone to check house open, as it is often hired for private events

How to get there:

Station: Wimbledon, then bus 93 or 200

Entry fee:

£ 9 per person

Additional information:

Disabled visitors should phone ahead

In a semi-rural corner of Wimbledon, on Woodhayes Road, off the south side of the common, is Southside House with its late 17th-century Anglo-Dutch façade, usually dated to 1687 (the date carved on one of the chimneypieces inside). Robert Pennington, a Chancery official, bought the property in 1665: the substantial new entrance front brought a fashionable regularity to the old farmhouse behind. Descendants of the Pennington family have been in ownership ever since. In 1910 Hilda Pennington Mellor married the Swedish doctor and philanthropist Dr Axel Munthe, author of the bestselling The Story of San Michele, and the house is now run by the Pennington Mellor Munthe Trust.

The house is seen by guided tour only, an eccentric but entertaining experience. En route are fine Stuart portraits mainly from the collection of Philip, Lord Wharton (connected to Southside through his daughter’s marriage into the Kemeys family of Cefn Mably). Most of Wharton’s van Dycks, an exceptional collection of at least 32 works, were sold in 1725 to Sir Robert Walpole and thence to Catherine the Great and are now in the Hermitage, but the full-lengths at Southside, in the Dining Room, by-passed the sale and came to the house in the 20th century (not with the other Wharton heirlooms). In the same room is Burne-Jones’s St George. A number of trophy relics with colourful and elaborate provenances can be seen, among them Anne Boleyn’s vanity case, which she had with her in the Tower before her execution; Marie Antoinette’s pearl necklace which she wore at the guillotine and which was presented to John Pennington by Josephine Bonaparte; and the emerald and gold ring of the last King of Serbia, whose proposal of marriage Hilda Pennington Mellor declined. The Hall, with its Baroque embellishments, was badly bomb-damaged: its painted ceiling was restored and repainted by Hilda and Axel Munthe’s artist son, Viking. Other pictures by him are hung throughout the house. The platform, upon which Emma Hamilton performed her classical ‘attitudes’, and ceiling hooks for curtains, is in the Music Room, as is her portrait by Romney. She, Lord Nelson and Sir William Hamilton were guests at Southside when they were living at nearby Merton Place (demolished) in the years before Trafalgar.

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Gravatar: Izabela BanasikIzabela Banasik
20.04.2015
18:58
Update from Southside House

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.

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Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

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