A Time-slip in St Margaret's Road
15 April 2021 (Updated 25 October 2023)
When the book An Adventure was published in 1911, it caused a sensation. It purported to be the true account of how two English women touring the grounds of the Palace at Versailles had either traveled through time or perhaps witnessed a very vivid haunting.
An adventure through time?
They claimed to have found themselves walking through scenes from the palace's past, including seeing the ghost of Marie Antoinette and experiencing the gardens as they would have been in the 1700s.
The book was published anonymously and it was not until after their deaths in 1931 that the identities of the two authors were made public.
They were Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain of Oxford. The pair were senior staff members at St Hugh's College, both having held the role of Principal of the college at different times.
Evidence of a time slip in Oxford
Their claims were much derided at the time, and since then there have been numerous theories put forward to explain what they claim to have seen, ranging from hallucinations to having stumbled into a fancy dress party. Nevertheless, the story captured the public's imagination.
Both Moberly and Jourdain claimed to have had other similar supernatural experiences both before and after their experience at Versailles.
Most notably Eleanor Jourdain claimed to have experienced a similar 'time-slip' in the road outside St. Hugh's College in St. Margaret's Road, Oxford.
She described having seen a prisoner dressed in the style of the Middle Ages being dragged down the road, which was lined by jeering crowds wearing clothing of a similar period.
Time slip stories - other UK locations
The concept of a time slip is not unique to Moberly and Jourdain, with similar incidents of people apparently seeing visions of the past having been reported around the world.
One of the most famous time slips in the UK occurred in Bold Street in Liverpool in the 1990s when a woman reported having found herself walking down the same street, but apparently a hundred or so years previously. She witnessed people in Victorian clothes, and saw the surrounding shops filled with goods from a bygone era. The woman even spoke and interacted with the people she met, who strangely seemed not to notice her modern clothes and style of speaking, before eventually finding herself back in the modern day.
Since her account was published, others have reported similar experiences in Bold Street, although not always travelling back to the same period in time. One man reported finding himself apparently witnessing the street as it was in the 1950's with cars and vans from that period driving past and modern shops missing, replaced with their 1950's counterparts!
- 'Oxfordshire Ghost Stories' by Richard Holland (Bradwell Books, 2013, ISBN: 9781902674735)
- The Moberly-Jourdain Incident (Wikipedia)
- Legend of the Bold Street Timeslip (theguideliverpool.com)
- Bizarre tale of Bold Street 'timeslips' that 'transported people into the past' (liverpoolecho.co.uk)