Southside House in Wimbledon – A family’s museum

First thing that comes to mind when we think of Wimbledon is tennis. But, there is more to this lush community than a fortnight of tennis championships. Southside House is one of the jewels of Wimbledon Village.

Here’s a photo tour of this venerable home:

The back entrance opens onto the music room where concerts are given periodically. Vintage elegance would describe the decor and appointments.  In one corner  resides a worn leather travel trunk. For years it languished in the basement, undisturbed until someone

became curious about its contents and opened it. They found

dozens of Hilda Pennington-Mellor’s designer clothes.

Such as this one:

Hilda Pennington-Mellor married Axel Munthe,

even though her parents were opposed to the marriage.

She was born of high society and dressed the occasion. A room has been

dedicated to some of her most exquisite attire.

As you survey the music room, your eye cannot help but fall on the worn

rocking horse  pushed against the wall. Many a child has spent pleasant

hours upon its back.

The picturesque dining room with table set for

royalty. And, indeed, royalty was a frequent guest  at

the Pennington-Mellor home.

But, elegance was commonplace. This was Hilda’s breakfast room. Notice at the top of the photo, this is a three-sided window…except you can just make out that there is something covering the right window (a painting). Hilda wanted her privacy as she had breakfast so she hung a picture over the window.

At the end of this passageway is a diminutive

door. A servant would be behind a side opening to dust a guest’s wig before he was presented to his host. The guest would hold his head back, the servant would use a bellows and dust (chalk) the wig. The traveler would hold a cone-shaped paper over his face to prevent inhaling the dust.

Malcolm Munthe, Hilda’s youngest son, was a member of the S.O.E. during WWII working behind enemy lines in Nazi occupied Norway. When he returned, he passionately

worked to restore the damage inflicted on Southside House from bombs.  This is his library (the most interesting of all the rooms in the home). Pictures, books, paraphernalia… all tell a story of this man’s character.

Molly, our tour guide, is pointing out the portrait of Hilda as a young child. Her beauty was unquestioned.

One hour Tours:  Wednesday, Saturdays, and Sundays between Easter Saturday to October 2nd.

Admission:   Adults  5.00 pounds; Children 2.50 pounds; families 10.00 pounds.

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