On the 29th August, Fairfield House and it's Gardens were filled to the capacity as members of the Ethiopian community who came to visit Fairfield House, once the official residency of HIM Hailessilassie I! They were joined by locals, the mayor of Bath and other friends of Ethiopia and the royal household.
The Prince crown of Ethiopia, Prince Michael Mekonnen, is set to generate fund to renovate Fairfield House,once the official residence of the late emperor of Ethiopia (1935 to 1939) when he was in exile in United kingdom. On 29 August 2015, Prince Michael, his friends and families, the trustees of Fairfield house and alongside with the mayor of the city of Bath have organised 'Ethiopian day' which has successfully raised awareness and has set an ongoing plan to raise over one million pound sterling to renovate the historical residential palace of the late emperor of Ethiopia, Fairfield house symbolise the historical and cultural heritages of the two nations.
Prince Michael also tells the great story of his grandfather’s memorial garden and statue in Cannizaro Park, Wimbledon. The exiled Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1892-1975) stood before the League of Nations to appeal for international support against the Italian Fascist conquest of his country.
A few weeks earlier, he and his family had taken refuge in Wimbledon with a sympathetic family living in Parkside.
After a while, they moved on for a longer period in Bath but his stay at Lincoln House, opposite Wimbledon Common, marked one of the town’s most remarkable events and is still recalled by a statue in Cannizaro Park.
It was five years before he would return to Ethiopia in 1941, supported by British forces fighting in the Second World War.
The Emperor’s hosts that summer, Dr Richard Seligman and his wife Hilda, were very happy to accommodate the imperial retinue at their home with its five acres of grounds.
Richard Seligman was a leading metallurgist and entrepreneur in Wandsworth. Hilda and a group of supporters including Sylvia Pankhurst, the former Suffragette, were leading campaigners against Britain’s pre-war appeasement of the dictators Mussolini and Hitler.
Years later when the war was over, Hilda herself became well known in Ethiopia for her humanitarian work. Her three sons, Adrian, Peter and Madron, all made their own marks in adulthood.
An amateur sculptor, Hilda took advantage of Haile Selassie’s presence at her house to create the bust now standing in Cannizaro Park. It originally stood in the grounds of Lincoln House until the building was demolished in 1957, making way for the roads and houses now on that site.
Wimbledon Council was given ownership of the statue and it was moved to Cannizaro Park’s rose garden beside Camp Road. In the 1980s it was transferred again to its present position in the former Tennis Garden amid rhododendrons behind the aviary.
Over the years the bust deteriorated and in 2004, Hilda’s daughter-in-law, Nancy-Joan Seligman (widow of Madron), offered what was now Merton Council and the Friends of Cannizaro Park some funding towards its restoration. Eventually, Merton's arts development officer persuaded the Council to carry out the project, supported by the Friends.