About Southwick House
Southwick House is a Grade II listed 19th-century manor house, 5 miles north of Portsmouth, and is the site from which D-Day was launched.
History of Southwick House
The house was built in 1800 in the late Georgian style. During World War Two, in 1940 the estate owners allowed the Royal Navy to use the house to accommodate overnight pupils of the Royal Navy School of Navigation, HMS Dryad, based in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard. After heavy bombing of the dockyard in 1941, the house was requisitioned and became the new home of HMS Dryad.
The village of Southwick was later entirely taken over by Allied Command, and Southwick House itself was used as the advance command post (Sharpener Camp) for the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). In 1944, in the months leading up to D-Day, the house became the headquarters of the main allied commanders, with General Eisenhower, Admiral Ramsay and General Montgomery all based here.
Eisenhower made his decision to delay D-Day by 24 hours (due to poor weather) in the library of Southwick House, and indeed the whole D-Day operation was organised from here.
Southwick House today
Visitors can view a giant plywood map that was used to plot the positions of the ships during Operation Neptune – the naval side of the invasion – which has been put back to its original D-Day positions.
Southwick House is still owned by the military, and is now used as the headquarters of the Defence School of Policing and Guarding. The house is likely to be sold in 2031, so make sure you plan a visit while it’s still possible.
The village of Southwick also holds a celebration each year on the closest weekend to D-Day, ‘The Southwick Revival’, to mark its involvement, including exhibitions and visits to the map room in Southwick House.
Getting to Southwick House
Southwick House is free to visit, but need to be booked as an appointment by emailing [email protected] as the building itself is still actively used by the military.
Southwick House is 5 miles north of Portsmouth, and most easily reached by car from there via the M27, B2177 then turning right, up Priory Road. You’ll pass the small town of Southwick, where there is a handy tea room and pub.