Fairfield House is an English Heritage Grade II listed building built between 1840–50 in the city of Bath, England. The property was the home to His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia during 1936–41, the five years he spent in exile from the invasion of Mussolini’s troops into his homeland, then known as Abyssinia.
From Fairfield House the Emperor planned the strategic battle to defeat Mussolini, wrote correspondence to world leaders, visited many events to lobby support, addressed the League of Nations with a historic speech, and successfully gathered the support of the British government who helped the Ethiopian army at the final push to defeat the Italian troops, on the eve of World War 2 becoming a closer reality.
Haile Selassie was fond of the house and the city of Bath, and writes about it fondly in his autobiography. He lived there with his wife Empress Menen, his children, priests, political advisors and house staff. One of his closest friends and advisors lived there named Blatengeta Heruye, who sadly passed away in 1938. He was buried in a local cemetary, and his body was later returned to Ethiopia at the end of the war. On returning to Ethiopia the Emperor named one of his properties Fairfield, in fond remembrance of his home in Bath. In his autobiography the Emperor writes, “The view through its front windows always reminded us if the hills in Harer (provence of Ethiopia)”. (page 36)
In 1954 the Emperor returned to Bath and was honoured with the Freedom of the City, which is a rare reward bestowed upon valued persons who have been held in high regard by the city’s leaders and citizens. (See a photograph of the ceremony at the ‘Bath in Time’ site here.)
Following his return to Ethiopia the Emperor bequeathed the house to the city to be used by the elderly as a care/support home, though it was first used as the ‘Fairfield Home for Babies’ between 1943 – 1946. The residents were evacuated there from Chippenham during World War 2. At the point of 1944 the house accommodated 35 children between the ages of two weeks and two years. In 1946 after the war had ended, the Home for Babies moved to Saville House Nursery, Bath. (Reference – Hidden Lives Revealed). Since then the house has been used by aged citizens of the city and it remains so to this day as the home of Bath Senior Citizens Association (BEMSCA).
The house is used on certain days of significance by the Rastafarian community from all over the UK and members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Fairfield House is also visited by people of all backgrounds from all over the world interested in this history. A specific room has been set-up on the 1st floor containing artefacts in commemoration of the history, and we are planning to extend the historic legacy to other areas in the house.
The aims of the Friends of Fairfield House are:
- To preserve and develop Fairfield House, properly respecting and preserving its heritage and the legacy relating to His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1 period of exile in UK.
- To honour and safeguard the spirit of the gift of Fairfield House to the elders of the city of Bath by His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I.
- To guarantee the continual use of the House to communities sympathetic to the significance of Fairfield House as a site of historical, cultural and religious importance.
We are asking for brief Statements of Support for Fairfield House to stay open – to write one please click here. You will also be added to the mailing list.
With Thanks and Love.