A ‘royal’ night for Bath.

A ‘royal’ night for Bath.

Treading in the steps of his illustrious grandfather – who just happened to be the Emperor of Ethiopia  – Prince Micheal Mekonnen came to Bath last night ( Thursday, May 5th).

He was here to help mark the 80th anniversary of the day his Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie arrived in the city that was to give his family refuge after they had been made homeless by the Italian invasion of Abyssinia.

The Emperor stayed at the Bath Spa Hotel for a while before buying a home – Fairfield House – to move into. He lived in Bath from 1936 until 1940.

This image shows him – in 1936 – on the front steps of what is now the five-star Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel. He is pictured with Dr James Carpenter who was the Mayor of Bath at that time.

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Haile Selassie with the Mayor of Bath,  Dr James Carpenter, on the steps of the Bath Spa Hotel in 1936.

The image is now in the Bath in Time collection: – http://www.bathintime.co.uk/image/383302/haile-selassie-on-the-steps-of-the-bath-spa-hotel-august-1936

The anniversary was marked by a special presentation to the hotel’s Manager Mr Mohamed Safwat of a copy of the photograph – which will go on display in the foyer.

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Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel Manager, Mr Mohamed Safwat, being presented with a copy of the 1936 photograph by Prince Micheal.

A brief talk about the Emperor’s stay at the hotel was given by Keith Bowers who also officially launched his new book – about Haile Selassie’s time in Bath – called Imperial Exile.

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Keith was keen to trace any living relative of the Mayor of Bath – back in 1936 – and was rewarded when Dr Carpenter’s great niece Christine Fox came forward!

She posed on the hotel steps with Prince Michael.

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Recreating the 1936 photo with two descendants of the originals! Prince Micheal – the Emperor’s grandson – on the left and Mrs Christine Fox – great niece of Dr James Carpenter.

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Part of the audience at the Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel to greet Prince Micheal and hear more about the late Emperor’s stay in Bath.

As invited guests took their leave l asked author Keith Bowers how he felt about the event’s success.

How Bath gave shelter to ‘The King of Kings’

How Bath gave shelter to ‘The King of Kings’

Bath’s five-star Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel –  behind Sydney Gardens – is a building with a long and colourful history. Famous people as diverse as Winston Churchill and Joan Collins have slept under its roof. At different times – and periods of history – of course!

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MacDonald Bath Spa Hotel

Churchill came during the war when the hotel was requisitioned by the Admiralty. Ms Collins stayed more recently – in the 1990’s – when the building had reverted once more to its luxury hotel status.

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Another view of the hotel.

However, this particular story revolves around a royal personage who came to Bath with his family  – as refugees. It was the start of his exile – and he lodged in the hotel while searching for a more permanent  home in the city.

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The Emperor and hunting party in Ethiopia before the Italian invasion drove him into exile. It was taken on the Addis Ababa to Djibouti railway line in the early 1930s just after he’d been officially crowned as Emperor.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the arrival of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. A King of Kings, the Lion of Judah and descendant of the House of Solomon – made homeless by the Italian invasion of his homeland.

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The family photo was probably taken at Fairfield House in Bath in the late 1930s.

The anniversary will be marked by a special presentation to the hotel of a photograph of the Emperor with Dr James Carpenter, the then Mayor of Bath, which was taken on the hotel steps in 1936.

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The Emperor and Mayor of Bath on the doorstep of the Bath Spa Hotel back in 1936. © Bath in Time

A specially framed version will be presented – on May 5th – by Prince Michael Mekonnen, the grandson of His Imperial Majesty – and will go on permanent display in the hotel foyer.

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The Emperor came back to Bath to receive the Freedom of the City and presented the Mayor of Bath with mounted elephant tusks. The ivory has since been stolen! © Bath in Time

A brief talk about the Emperor’s stay at the hotel will be given by Keith Bowers who is also the author of a new book called Imperial Exile. The book is the first full account of the Ethiopian Emperor’s experiences as a refugee in Britain.

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Author Keith Bowers with his new book – Imperial Exile.

 Keith is a former BBC executive producer and has taught at the University of Addis Ababa. He now lives in Bath. His previous book was Viewing History, an eyewitness account of decisive world events.

I spoke to him – at the MacDonald Bath Spa  Hotel – this week.

Many of the Bath photographs in that interview come from the files of Bath in Time – please visit on www.bathintime.co.uk/

The book is already on Amazon available for pre-orders.

Ebook  http://ww.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01DU88C4O

Paperback  http://amazon.co.uk/dp/1785450875

According to the blurb…

“IMPERIAL EXILE

The first full account of the Ethiopian Emperor’s experiences as a refugee in Britain

: uncovers new details about Haile Selassie’s epic struggles while living in the spa city of Bath 

: unveils the tensions in the UK government about how to deal with its famous exile

: reveals how the Emperor was forced to pay income tax after losing his Head of State status

: highlights the British public’s fascination with the Imperial refugee fleeing Mussolini’s troops

: contains interviews with eyewitnesses, including Princess Seble Desta who was with her grandfather in exile.”

Meanwhile – on May 2nd –  a special Open Day is being held at Fairfield House in Bath which became the long-term residence of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia during
his exile in the UK from 1936-40.

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Fairfield House – the former home of Hailee Selassie during his exile.

The Open Day will provide a chance to discover more
about the fascinating history of the house and the Emperor’s life in Bath.

According to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fairfield-house-open-day-and-talk-on-imperial-exile-of-haile-selassie-tickets-24238500006

The House and garden will be open from 2pm.
From 3pm-4pm First guided tour plus talk by Keith Bowers, author of the new book Imperial Exile
4.30pm-5.30pm Second guided tour plus talk by Keith Bowers.
Light refreshments available, including Ethiopian food and coffee.

You will find Fairfield House at 2 Kelston Road, Bath BA1 3QJ – View Map

 

Atlantic memories – Black histories of Bath

Atlantic memories – Black histories of Bath

The poster promoting the exhibition. Click on images to enlarge.

The poster promoting the exhibition. Click on images to enlarge.

Part of the display at the Central Library.

Part of the display at the Central Library.

Interesting little exhibition currently displaying at Bath’s Central Library which explores the memories and stories from members of the Bath Ethnic Minority Senior Citizens Association (BEMSCA), through the use of photographs and objects that they own.

With the help of local photographer and community worker Lisa Reid, members talked about their memories of leaving homelands to arrive in Bath and having to settle into their new lives.

Another collection of visual memories.

Another collection of visual memories.

The exhibition celebrates their journey through the use of photographs, images and objects, and with fragments of memories written as text.

Lisa spoke with the senior citizens, gathered their stories and images from their personal archives, took additional photographs and brought together the material into a collection.

Part of the display.

Part of the display.

The exhibition was curated by Dr Shawn Sobers – who is Associate Professor of Media at the University of the West of England – and Pauline Swaby-Wallace who is Director of BEMSCA.

BEMSCA are based at Fairfield House in Bath.

It’s the former residence of Emperor Haile Selassie 1.

The exhibition is on until October 30th and free to enter.