Wisbech Society members enjoy private tour of 17th century Southside House in Wimbledon

Peter Clayton, chairman of the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust

Peter Clayton, chairman of the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust - Credit: Archant

Members of the Wisbech Society enjoyed a private tour of a 17th century house in Wimbledon on Saturday.

Eighteen members travelled to the Grade II listed Southside House to see the building that Fenland District Council’s conservation officer, Nicola Duncan-Finn, has been involved in a University College London project.

Society members were given a presentation of the story of the house and its art collection. They also learnt about ways of managing a building by using technology.

Other highlights of the trip included a view of The Albany, the home to the poet, Lord Byron, and Matthew Lewis, the author of the Gothic novel, ‘The Monk’; its manuscript is part of the collection at Wisbech and Fenland Museum.

The event was organised to give the group a chance to see a management model which could be applied to Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House.

Organiser David Crouch said: “Members were delighted and inspired by this visit.”

Peter Clayton, chairman of the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust, said: “Wow. What a pleasure to finish our annual coach programme at a place that everyone should see.”

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Peter King, of the group, said: “The work has involved an analysis of the ways graded buildings and their contents are treated, enabling managers and trustees to build a business plan, which could be adopted at the home of the National Trust co-founder at 7 South Brink, Wisbech, and possibly at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum.

“More than a quarter of a century after Peter Clayton conducted a Wisbech Society coach trip to Octavia Hill sites in London, leading to the establishment of the Octavia Hill Society and then the purchase of part of the Birthplace House, he was back in the capital city to visit the house that had been the home of Axel Munthe, the author of the best-selling ‘The story of San Michele’.

“Through his friendship with the Queen of Sweden, the gifted writer and physician had acquired top-quality artworks that adorn the building, and his son, Malcolm, who had served as an officer in the special operations executive, set about refurbishing the house after the Second World War.

“After lunch the group visited Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, which is linked with Wisbech through one of its partners, Brian Lake, who is restoring the old barn at 11 North Brink.”