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Why You Should Not Leave Britain Before Visiting Fairfield House

Frequent expressions post-tour inclusive but not limited to: "There's so much to take in!" "So glad I came today!" and "I didn't know this house existed!"

By The Dani WriterPublished 12 months ago 4 min read
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Source: Fairfield House, Somerset Live image

When relocating to the South West Region of the UK from the West Midlands for a new job, a high school friend of mine exclaimed, ”Oh, you’ll be near the Emperor’s house.”

Bath Spa is the type of city that draws adventure-seeking attention from first glance, but working back-to-back 12-hour shifts, I didn’t get to see it or the historically steeped Fairfield House for some years.

My first tour of this historic landmark rendered me almost speechless from the wellspring of concentrated knowledge and emotions mix that one can only experience when they had not so much as a living clue about all the information they’ve just received.

How (in my case) does a such a globally significant historical figure get eclipsed by over 20 years of formal education?

I (and maybe you too) got force-fed a standard history curriculum and higher education prerequisites that covered everything from Greek Civilization through British History, American History, the French Revolution, and World Wars I & II with lots of key names thrown in.

But never this one.

Like many, I grew up hearing the songs…

Seeds.

Thanks to Bob Marley and the Rastafarian Movement for speaking the name of His Imperial Majesty (H.I.M) Haile Selassie I, the Emperor of Ethiopia/Abyssinia.

Spoiler Alert: In 1954, on a state visit, Emperor Haile Selassie donated his home, Fairfield House, to the City of Bath, Somerset for the care of the aged. But the story of how this came to be is a fascinating one…

These are some of the first words you will hear at the start of a tour at Fairfield House #2 Kelston Road in Bath Spa.

Author's personal photo

During the tour you can learn about:

• Historical and legendary details of the first Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1896 and how it fueled the inspiration and pride of Africans living throughout the Diaspora, many of whom took bold action during the second Italian invasion in 1935.

• How and why Emperor Haile Selassie I, Empress Menen Asfaw, their family, government, Ethiopian priests, and numerous Ethiopian refugees came to reside in a quiet corner of Bath Spa, Somerset and attracted a lot of attention.

Source: Fairfield House, archive image.

• When the Emperor stood before The League of Nations (of which Ethiopia was a member state) in June 1936 to seek support for his country and gave a prophetic warning that solidified him as a global figure of antifascism and made him popular in epic proportions upon his arrival to Britain.

• How the Emperor of Ethiopia made Britain’s most famous Prime Minister literally ‘duck and cover’ simply by his presence.

• Some of the bleakest and darkest periods of Imperial exile in 1937 as the Italians occupied Addis Ababa, the devastating events that befell the Ethiopian population, and how this news was disseminated.

• First-hand observances via recorded audio accounts by neighbors of the Imperial Family during their period of exile from 1936-1941

• Detailed and accurate backstory concerning the running of the Royal household that allows for an intimate connection to this historical period, replete with humorous anecdotes as there were an abundance of children and grandchildren in the house at the time.

Source: Instagram @ Fairfield House, The House of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I

• An option to play an authentic and original instrument owned by the Emperor and kept in pristine working condition.

• The establishment of conquest rules from the Berlin Conference of 1884 and how colonial empires engaged in collusion regarding the African continent and Ethiopia in particular.

• Access to the first site of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church outside of Ethiopia and Jerusalem.

• The unique connection between the Emperor and the Rastafarian Movement.

• Photographs, documents, artwork, and artifacts giving evidentiary proof attesting to 3,000 years of Ethiopian history.

• Find out why Haile Selassie became such a world-renown and respected figure by hearing about his achievements for humanity before during and after the war and perhaps how these examples can inspire you to greatness.

Source: Library of Congress, Emperor Haile Selassie addressing The League of Nations 1936.

This experience is not one to be missed as it draws visitors from all over the world to this historic landmark.

Would it be a stretch to say that it feels like stepping back through a portal in time to relive some of the most significant events of the era?

Will you be emotionally moved beyond words at the end of the tour after having exhausted all your questions on the Fairfield House resident walking-talking griot and encyclopedia-filled reservoir of a tour guide?

Source: Instagram @ Fairfield House, The House of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I

Are you destined to become a frequent visitor when you hear about the many Ethiopian, Rastafarian, Caribbean, Chinese, African, and Indian community celebrations taking place throughout the year at this historic house?

As you are given ample time post-tour, to wander through the house reading the plethora of information within the exhibits and taking pictures, will you forget that there’s a delicious Caribbean lunch waiting for you downstairs in the conservatory?

Come and see for yourself, then you tell me.

Author's personal photo

I’ve lost count of how many repeat tours (and lunches) I’ve had, as Fairfield House now seems and feels more than ever, like home.

Thank you so much for reading this destination recommendation! Your time investment is valued more than I can express.

If you enjoyed what you read and would like to demonstrate support, please feel free to share with friends on social media or come to visit Fairfield House while I'm still in Britain. I would enjoy meeting you there!

humanitytravel adviceeuropecultureactivities
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About the Creator

The Dani Writer

Explores words to create worlds with poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Writes content that permeates then revises and edits the heck out of it. Interests: Freelance, consultations, networking, rulebook-ripping. UK-based

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Comments (3)

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  • L.C. Schäfer12 months ago

    You come from where I am! Small world! You make me want to visit this place, it sounds fascinating.

  • Margaret Brennan12 months ago

    To visit the UK is on my bucket list (as soon as I save enough, I'm going). Not only do I want to trace my family history (mom was born in the UK) but now, more than every, I want to extend my exploration to see more of this magnificent country. Thank you for sharing this awesome story.

  • Thank you for sharing what sounds like a wonderful, inspirational experience with us. My wife has always been a fan of Bob Marley. We may have to become more familiar with H.I.M.

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