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Bath and North East Somerset Council press release : Fairfield House

Via Bath and North East Somerset Council Website

Plans to protect and enhance the former home of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in Bath have taken a step forward with a new lease on the historic Fairfield House to a not-for-profit Community Interest Company.

Fairfield House Bath CIC has been awarded a two-year lease by Bath & North East Somerset Council, which will enable the historic site to continue being used as a lively community hub, day care centre for the elderly and heritage attraction for visitors worldwide.

The lease means the CIC can continue to deliver its business plan on a sound legal basis and also work to secure further grants. The intention is then to apply for community asset transfer or a new longer lease in two years’ time.

The Fairfield House site comprises two buildings: an ‘Italianate’ 19th century, Grade II listed villa at 2 Kelston Road and a post-war residential detached bungalow at 27 Burleigh Gardens.

From 1936 to 1941 the villa was the residence of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, who gifted the property to Bath Corporation (a forerunner of Bath & North East Somerset Council) in 1959 as a home for the aged in gratitude for the warm welcome he received from the citizens of Bath. The bungalow was built to provide caretaker accommodation.

Fairfield House was used as a residential care home until 1993, when new room size requirements made it unsuitable. From then it has been used as a day centre by a number of groups including, since 1993, by the charity Bath Ethnic Minority Senior Citizens' Association (BEMSCA).

Fairfield House is also a community hub and place of pilgrimage for the local people of Bath, for Rastafari, Ethiopians, and the worldwide African diaspora.

Fairfield House Bath CIC was established to preserve and celebrate Emperor Haile Selassie's unique legacy: a personal gift to the city in appreciation of the warm welcome and hospitality he had received from the people of Bath when he was in exile, campaigning and preparing to fight to get his country back.

As part of a new short-term lease agreement the council will also carry out repairs to the properties to preserve the integrity of the buildings.

Councillor Tom Davies, cabinet member for Adult Services and Council House Building, said: “I recognise how much this building, its history and its current contribution to community life means to so many people, in Bath and across the world. I am very proud of this key part of our cultural heritage and history. I want to see Fairfield House flourish and thrive into the future, with even more links with our diverse local communities. The new lease will pave the way for the CIC to work with local communities, funders and others on long-term plans for this historic site.”

Professor Shawn Sobers, said: “We can finally put HIM’s legacy and the vibrant life of Fairfield House on a firm legal footing. We now look forward to working closely with Bath and North East Somerset Council to secure the long-term future of HIM’s legacy. We invite people to visit Fairfield House where we now offer guided tours every Sunday. Come and learn about this remarkable piece of Bath’s history.”



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