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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Slips in Time

In August of 1901, two Englishwomen, Annie Moberly and her colleague Dr. Eleanor Frances Jourdain, were on a trip visiting Paris. The first stop on their tour was the capital. After a short visit there, the two then went to Versailles. At Versailles, the women would have a remarkable experience which has become a timeless tale. The two women would later recount the following story. Blogger Naomi tells us the story:

The two Englishwomen visited the palace at Versailles, where after touring the building itself they descended the steps into the gardens, walking toward the Petit Trianon. There they turned off along a track and passed by some deserted farm buildings, in front of which there was an old plough. On the path stood two men in long green coats wearing three-cornered hats. Eleanor Jourdain asked them the way and they replied with dignified gestures, from which the two Englishwomen gathered that they should go straight on. They went on their way without giving another thought to the strangers' period costume, assuming it to be intended as a tourist attraction. They strolled up to an isolated cottage where a woman and a 12- or 13-year-old girl were standing at the doorway, both wearing white kerchiefs fastened under their bodices. As Eleanor Jourdain described the scene, the woman was standing at the top of the steps, holding a jug and leaning slightly forwards, while the girl stood beneath her, looking up at her and stretching out her empty hands.

"She might have been just going to take the jug or have just given it up. I remember that both seemed to pause for an instant, as in a motion picture," wrote Dr. Jourdain.

The two Oxford ladies went on their way and soon reached a pavilion that stood in the middle of an enclosure. The place had a god-forsaken air about it and the atmosphere was depressing and unpleasant.

A man was sitting outside the pavilion, his face repulsively disfigured by smallpox, wearing a coat and a straw hat. He seemed not to notice the two women; at any rate, he paid no attention to them.

Suddenly, a young man in a dark coat and buckle shoes appeared and ran past shouting something like, "You can't go through there." He pointed toward the right and added, "You'll find the house over there."

Although the Englishwomen spoke French they could only partly understand the man's speech. He bowed with a curious smile and disappeared. The sound of his hurrying footsteps hung in the air for a long time.

The Englishwomen walked on in silence and after a while reached a narrow, rustic bridge, which led over a ravine. A small waterfall made its way between stones and fern leaves, down a slope covered in vegetation. On the other side of the bridge, the path wound along the edge of a meadow surrounded by trees. Some way away stood a small country house with shuttered windows and with terraces on either side. A lady was sitting on the lawn with her back to the house. She held a large sheet of paper or cardboard in her hand and seemed to be working at or looking at a drawing. She was no longer in the bloom of youth but looked most attractive. She wore a summer dress with a long bodice and a very full, apparently short skirt, which was extremely unusual. She had a pale green fichu or kerchief draped around her shoulders, and a large white hat covered her fair hair.

At the end of the terraces was a second house. As the two women drew near, a door suddenly flew open and slammed shut again. A young man with the demeanor of a servant, but not wearing livery, came out. As the two Englishwomen thought they had trespassed on private property, they followed the man toward the Petit Trianon. Quite unexpectedly, from one moment to the next, they found themselves in the middle of a crowd--apparently a wedding party--all dressed in the fashions of 1901.

This account is a classic example of what is known as the time slip phenomenon. Simply defined, a time slip is an event where a persona is momentarily, and involuntarily, outside of the normal flow of time. They appear to have traveled either forward, or backwards, in time. Time slips stories have interested me for years. Although, I haven’t quite made up my mind as to what might be causing these events to occur. There seems to be some evidence that time may not be as linear as we perceive it. Is it possible that we can accidently travel through time? The following cases seem to make that suggestion.

Sir Victor Goddard’s Flight


On the Uk Paranormal Events forum page, member Sir JGP relates the following tale involving RAF Air Marshal Sir Victor Goddard:

in 1935 Sir Victor Goddard who at the time was a Wing Commander in the British Air Force was flying back to Andover, England from Edinburgh, Scotland, he decided to fly over an abandoned airfield at Drem which is not to far from Edinburgh.  The old disused airfield looked battered, its runways were overgrown with foliage, the hangers were all falling down and once where planes stood ready for action was now a grazing area for cows.

Having flown over the old airbase Goddard continued on his way back to Andover, however not long into the continued flight he encountered a strange storm, he reported later that there were high winds and that the storm had strange brown-yellow clouds, the storm took him by surprise and he was unable avoid flying into the storm, he lost control of his plane which started to spiral towards the ground.

Goddard managed to get the plane under control narrowly avoiding a crash, Once he got his bearings again he realised that they were heading back the way they had come and towards the Drem airfield again, as he approached the old airfield the storm suddenly vanished and Goddard's plane emerged into brilliant sunshine.  

This time as they flew over the airfield, he noticed how different it looked, the hangers that moments before had been falling down now looked brand new, there were four planes parked on the ground, three of which he recognised as biplanes but the fourth was a monoplane, in 1935 the RAF had not yet acquired a monoplane, the planes were all painted in an unfamiliar yellow, the runways were clear of foliage and he noticed mechanics dressed in blue overalls walking around, He thought it strange that none of the people on the ground appeared to notice him flying over.

Conscious of his fuel level he set course back to Andover, but once again encountered the strange storm this time though he was aware he was approaching it and was ready for it, he made it through the storm
without losing control of the aircraft and made his way safely back to Andover.

The intriguing epilogue to this tale is that it wasn’t until 1939, some 4 yrs after the incident, that the RAF painted their planes yellow, started using the monoplane of the type that Goddard had seen, and the mechanics had their uniforms switched to blue.

The cafe that wasn’t there


Blogger Naomi at the Time Slips Account blog recounts another interesting, almost classic, time slip tale of a woman who visited an antique looking coffee shop. Wishing to bring her husband to this coffee shop on their next trip into town, she discovered it had been closed for years. From the blog:

On the morning of 18th June 1968, and elderly lady, Mrs Charlotte Warburton, went shopping with her husband in the town. They decided to go their separate ways for a while and to meet up later. That morning, unable for find a particular brand of coffee from her usual grocer she went into a supermarket in Calverley Road. As she entered the shop she saw a small café through an entrance in the left-hand wall. She had never before realised that there was a café there. It was rather old-fashioned with wood panelled walls. There were no windows and the room was lit by a number of electric bulbs with frosted shades

There was at the time, she thought, nothing especially odd about the scene. 'Two woman in rather long dresses were sitting at one table and about half a dozen men, all in dark lounge suits, were sitting at the other tables further back in the room,' she said. 'All the people seemed to be drinking coffee and chatting ... a normal sight for a country town at eleven o'clock in the morning.'

When they came to Tunbridge Wells on their next shopping expedition Mrs Warburton decided to take her husband to the café. Or rather, she hoped to take his [sic] there. But, of course, they never did find the place though they searched the street up and down. No, they were told in the supermarket, there was no café there. She must be in the wrong building. It was then that they learned about the Kosmos Kinema which had stood on the site of the supermarket.

They were directed to the Tunbridge Wells Constitutional Club, where the steward told them that at one time the Constitutional Club had owned the premises adjoining the Kosmos, which was now incorporated into the supermarket.

The club had had an assembly room in those days and to the rear a small bar with tables for refreshments. Mrs Warburton's description tallied exactly with the club's old refreshment room.

The bar, the cinema and the assembly room had all vanished years ago, Mrs Warburton was told.

This kind of scenario is a classic example of a time slip. It even has the return visit to the location which is no longer there. It’s possible that the woman had simply gone back to the wrong cafe, that perhaps the one she visited still existed on another street. Still, her description did seem to match exactly with the refreshment room which had not existed for years.

Highway to the Past


The following story comes by way of Stephen Wagner at He relates an account of two gentlemen who were making their way on Highway 167. Here is their story:

In October, 1969, a man identified only as L.C. and his business associate, Charlie, were driving north from Abbeville, Louisiana toward Lafayette on Highway 167. As they were driving along the nearly empty road, they began to overtake what appeared to be an antique car traveling very slowly. The two men were impressed by the mint condition of the nearly 30-year-old car - it looked virtually new - and puzzled by its bright orange license plate on which was stamped only "1940."

They figured, however, that the car had been part of some antique auto show. As they passed the slow-moving vehicle, they slowed their car to get a good look at the old model. The driver of the old car was a young woman dressed in vintage 1940s clothing, and her passenger was a small child likewise dressed. The woman seemed panicked and confused. L.C. asked if she needed help and, through her rolled up window, indicated "yes."

L.C. motioned for her to pull off to the side of the road. The businessmen pulled ahead of the old car and turned onto the shoulder of the road. When they got out... the old car had vanished without a trace. There were no turnoffs or anywhere else the vehicle could have gone. Moments later, another car pulled up to the businessmen and, quite puzzled, said he had seen their car pull off to the side... and the old car simply vanish into thin air.

In this case it sounds more like the driver from the 1940’s had the time slip and had found herself temporarily in the future.


Time slips are fascinating pieces of paranormal literature. They seem to suggest that time may not exist in quite the way we perceive it.  By what mechanism are these people slipping through time? In Goddard’s case, there is mention of a “strange storm”, but the others make no mention of anything out of the ordinary. Except for the experience itself. I’m left with so many questions after reading accounts like those listed above.

But there’s one which sticks out in my mind the most. Are their reciprocal time slip accounts? For instance in the case of the woman driving with the young child on Highway 167, did she later go home and tell her husband about the two men in a strange looking vehicle she saw? Or with the Englishwomen at Versailles. Are there reports from the time they were supposed to have visited of people seeing strange-garbed women speaking english?

I’m interested to hear what you readers have to say. Be sure to comment below and tell me your thoughts!

Sources and additional readings:

If you wish to read more accounts of time slips, I recommend you check out the following sites.


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