The Versailles Time-Slip 

Time travel is usually the stuff of science fiction and fantasy, but if the account of two women in the first years of the 20th century is to be believed, then time travel is not only possible, but it can happen spontaneously and without warning.

In August of 1901, Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain decided to visit the Palace of Versailles in France. As they were not impressed with the palace after touring it, they decided to walk through the gardens to the Petit Trianon.  On the way, however, they learned that they were closed to the public that day and, instead, decided to explore the grounds some more.

Soon, the two ladies were lost and, as they put it, overcome with a feeling of weariness and oppression.  Soon, they began to notice things that were out of place -- dignified officials in three cornered hats, an old plough and farmhouse, and other people and things that appeared as through they belonged more in a wax museum than the streets of 20th century Paris.

Mrs. Jourdain wrote: "Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant; even the trees seemed to become flat and lifeless, like wood worked in tapestry. There were no effects of light and shade, and no wind stirred the trees."

They reached the edge of a wood, close to the Temple de l'Amour, and came across a man seated beside a garden kiosk, wearing a cloak and large shady hat.  According to Moberly, his appearance was "most repulsive... its expression odious. His complexion was dark and rough." 

Jourdain noted "The man slowly turned his face, which was marked by smallpox; his complexion was very dark. The expression was evil and yet unseeing, and though I did not feel that he was looking particularly at us, I felt a repugnance to going past him.

A man later described as "tall... with large dark eyes, and crisp curling black hair under a large sombrero hat" came up to them, and showed them the way to the Petit Trianon.

After crossing a bridge, they reached the gardens in front of the palace, and Moberly noticed a lady sketching on the grass who looked at them.  She later described what she saw in great detail: the lady was wearing a light summer dress, on her head was a shady white hat, and she had lots of fair hair. Moberly thought she was a tourist at first, but the dress appeared to be old-fashioned. Moberly came to believe that the lady was Marie Antoinette. Jourdain however did not see the lady.

After this, they were directed round to the entrance and joined a party of other visitors.  The strange feelings and visions of the past had vanished.

It was many months before the women told of their strange encounters.  Visiting Versailles sometime later, the women were not able to find the landmarks that they had noticed during the incident.  During their research, they thought they recognized the man by the kiosk as the Comte de Vaudreuil, a friend of Marie Antoinette, who herself had been thought to have been seen by Moberly.

The two women eventually wrote a book called "An Adventure" in 1911, but their identities as the authors were not revealed until 1931 four years after Eleanor Jourdain passed away.

Did Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain actually walk through a hole in time and experience 16th century France?  Skeptics have brought up the possibility that the two women might have experienced a shared delusion or perhaps even wandered into a costume party or the rehearsal for an outdoor play.

Still others suspect that the Moberly–Jourdain incident was a "time slip" and that, for some reason or another that we cannot understand, two people from the 20th century were accidentally sent to the 16th.

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