Charlotte Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain took a trip together and toured Versailles in August of 1901. They walked along the paths and ended up at the Petit Trianon. They saw a few people wearing old time clothes and both ladies felt depressed and anxious. When they eventually discussed their tour, they realized that they both had different experiences and they believe they experienced a time slip and saw people from the past.
EJ=Francis Lamont CM=Elizabeth Morison
The Moberly-Jourdain incident is a story of time slip. A time slip is where a person or group of people, slip into another time in the past or future. There is a theory that time isn't linear, it ripples around the same point in space. The person that experiences the time slip, typically is aware of their current time and when they come back, they realize that a lot of time has passed. The person usually feels unsettled or depressed during their experience and some have mentioned a fog surrounding them. Time Slips are referred to as hauntings because the person is usually interacting with people from the past which are now ghosts or slipping into someone's strong past memory and they will come back with knowledge about something that only historians would typically know.
Either way, the Moberly Jourdain story is An Adventure and that is the name of their book. The girls used different names in the book. Charlotte went by Elizabeth Morison and Eleanor went by Francis Lamont. The book is laid out with Charlotte's account first, then Eleanor's. Even though they were at the same place, at the same time, they had two separate experiences and didn't realize this until three months later. First, I'll give you a little background so you can see we are talking about two very educated ladies, then we will jump into the incident.
Charlotte Ann Moberly was born in 1846. She had 14 siblings and her father was the headmaster of Winchester College. Charlotte became the first principal of a hall of residence for young women, St. Hugh's College in Oxford. She needed some help running the college, so an assistant, Eleanor Jourdain was hired.
Eleanor was born in 1863 and she had 9 siblings. Her father was the vicar of Ashborne in Derbyshire (Darbyshir), her sister was an art historian, and her brother was a mathematician. Eleanor was the author of several textbooks and ran a school of her own. She was clearly qualified to help Charlotte run the college.
38 year old Eleanor and 55 year old Charlotte didn't really know each other that well, so they decided to spend a few days exploring Paris and doing some sight seeing together. This was in August of 1901. The ladies decided to go to Versailles and neither of them really knew where it was or what you would really see there, but they hopped on a train and arrived in the afternoon. When they got to the Palace, it did peak their interest. They toured the rooms and galleries, but mentioned in their book that they felt bad for not having proper knowledge of this place before visiting. Charlotte suggested that they should go to Petit Trianon because she read an article in a magazine about it. The Petit Trianon is a small chateau located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles and the Queen, Marie Antoinette spent a lot of time there.
They looked at the map and figured out what direction they needed to go. They ended up taking the scenic route since they didn't ask for directions and they went by the great flights of steps from the fountains and down the central avenue. The weather had been very hot all week, but now, the sky was overcast, the sun was shaded, and it was windy. After the ladies got to the beginning of the long water, they headed to the right down a woodland glade and they saw a building and figured this must be the Grand Trianon. They came up to a green drive and Charlotte saw a woman shaking a white cloth out of the window of a building. Charlotte and Elanor kept walking past some buildings and they stopped to look in an open doorway at the end of a staircase. They didn't see anyone there, so they decided not to go in. They saw three paths laid out in front of them and there were two men ahead of them on the center path, so they took that one so they could ask for directions.
The men on the path had wheelbarrows and were dressed in long greyish-green coats with small cornered hats according to Charlotte. Eleanor remembers the men dressed in green clothes as well and she could see something in their hands and she saw a wheelbarrow with gardening tools near them. As they approached. Eleanor asked what way they should go. The men directed the girls to keep going straight down the path. They followed the directions, but Eleanor did try asking again if they should go straight because the answer seemed really mechanical and strange. Eleanor saw a cottage with stone steps at the door to the right. She saw a woman and a girl standing in the doorway and they both wore white kerchiefs tucked into the bodice. I think that's a scarf that goes around the neck of the dress. The woman was passing a jug to the girl and Eleanor says they looked like a pair of wax figures. Charlotte didn't see the cottage, but she noticed a shift in scenery. She said, “Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant; even the trees seemed to become flat and lifeless, like wood worked in tapestry. There were not effects of light and shade, and no wind stirred the trees.”
As they continued, Charlotte had an overwhelming feeling of depression wash over her and this made her anxious. Eleanor felt the same depression and anxiety at this point. They walked into the woods and saw a man sitting. The ground was covered in rough grass and dead leaves. Everything looked unnatural, flat, lifeless, and still. As if it was a story book. There was a man at a kiosk wearing a cloak and large shady hat and he turned to look at the ladies as they approached. Charlotte felt alarmed and said the man's face was repulsive. I don't think she meant repulsive as in ugly, she mentions that something about the expression on his face was really scary. Eleanor had a similar description, but also noticed that the man's face was marked by smallpox He had a dark, rough complexion and then she heard someone running towards them. She turned to see who was running and no one was around, but she felt someone near her. Charlotte turned and saw a man who was tall and had large dark eyes, and curly black hair under a sombrero. Eleanor doesn't remember how the man was dressed, but she knows the material was dark and heavy, and he wore buckled shoes. This man was yelling madame and waving his arm around wildly. The man kept pointing to the right and the ladies felt that this guy wanted them to follow this path which would be the path away from the other man that made them feel alarmed.
Charlotte and Eleanor began heading towards the path on the right and they turned to thank the man that pointed them in that direction, but he was gone. They could hear someone running again behind them, but they couldn't see anyone. They passed over a small rustic bridge that was over a small ravine. They followed the path to the small house, but it was very different from what they expected. The long windows were boarded up, There was a lady sitting on the terrace holding out paper and it looked like she was doing a sketch. As they approached, Charlotte saw the lady turn to look in their direction and she had a shady white hat and a summer dress that sat on her shoulders with a thin line of green-gold near the edge. The dress was long waisted and she had a very full skirt. The dress was old-fashioned, so the Charlotte didn't believe she was a tourist. Charlotte looked at the lady, but got an overwhelming feeling to look away and she felt annoyed that the lady was there.
Eleanor never saw this lady at all. She recalls a sudden urge to pull her skirt up as she walked on the terrace. She felt like someone was near her and she needed to make room for them, but she couldn't see anyone or explain that feeling.
Charlotte suddenly felt as if she was in a dream and they walked up the terrace steps and into the house. They saw another house and the door opened and a young man stepped out. The man called to the women, banged the door loudly behind him, and mentioned that they were using the wrong entrance. He offered to show them around. They walked down the French garden and into the entrance hall and they waiting as the French wedding party walked in a long procession around the rooms. After the tour, the ladies took a carriage ride and then they had tea. They walked back to the station and neither of them discussed the events that happened that day. A week later, Charlotte sat down to write a letter about her experience. She felt like she was describing a dream and a weird feeling washed over her and she had to stop writing. Charlotte asked Eleanor if she thought the Petit Trianon was haunted and she said yes. Charlotte asked her when she first had that feeling and Eleanor told her, “In the garden where we met the two men, but not only there.” She described feeling depressed and anxious and it was at the same points where Charlotte experienced those feelings as well.
As the ladies recounted their story, they realized there were many inconsistencies or odd things that had happened. Such as: the man wrapped in a cloak when the summer heat was so strong and the fact that he just disappeared, they kept hearing someone running, but couldn't see anyone, and the fact that the cloaked man wanted them to desperately head to the path on the right. They both felt like there was going to be a fight on the path to the left. They dropped the subject and this wasn't revisited again for three months. On Sunday, November 10th, 1901, Charlotte said to Eleanor, “If we had known that a lady was sitting so near us sketching it would have made all the difference, for we should have asked the way.” Eleanor was like, what on earth are you talking about? There was no lady. Charlotte says, the lady that was sitting on the terrace and Eleanor was like, no one was there. Charlotte told her that it was impossible for her to not see this lady. They had walked up the terrace and passed her. They decided to write down their own individual accounts of the trip because they had clearly seen different things , and the results were strange.
When Eleanor returned to London, she had a lesson she would be teaching the next morning on the French Revolution and she realized something. August 10th, the day her and Charlotte's incident happened, was a very significant day in French history and they had been at Trianon on the anniversary of the day. On a whim, Eleanor spoke to a French friend of hers and asked if they knew the story about the haunting of the Petit Trianon. The friend told her that she had heard that there is a certain day in August where Marie Antoinette can be seen sitting outside the garden at the Petit Trianon with a light flapping hat and a pink dress. The friend also mentioned that people that were there that day can be seen wandering the paths. Eleanor sent a letter with this information to Charlotte.
As soon as Charlotte received the letter, she looked in her diary to recall exactly what day they had visited Versailles and looked the event up in a book. On August 10th, 1792, French Revolutionary troops stormed the Tuileries (Twilery) Palace in Paris. The King and Queen were held inside and they could hear the massacre of the guards and servants. The monarchy was destroyed and King Louis XVI (sixteen) and Queen Marie Antoinette were eventually beheaded.
Charlotte and Eleanor wondered if they had somehow entered the Queen's memory or time traveled. They both had moments where they felt shut in and oppressed. The ladies researched and viewed photos from that specific time frame and saw that the men were wearing large hats and cloaks, and the ladies had long-waisted bodices with full skirts, just like they had seen.
On January 2nd, 1902, Eleanor went to Versailles for the second time. She was anxious and didn't waste anytime. She headed straight to the Petit Trianon and crossed a bridge during her walk. She felt fine initially, then had a wave of distress wash over her as if she had crossed a line. Eleanor saw a cart that was being filled with sticks and there were two men wearing tunics and capes with pointed bright hats. She turned her head for a moment and when she looked back, the men were gone. She forged on down the path and came upon some houses near the water and she felt the oppressive feeling. Eleanor made a wrong turn by mistake and saw a man in the trees that was cloaked. As she was walking along the path, she heard a rustling noise behind her, she turned to look and she saw no one. Then, she felt as if she were closed in by a group of people. As if the path was full and people were passing her and Eleanor heard women's voices. The crowd died down and there was music that could be heard.
When Eleanor returned to Versailles, she asked if a band was playing that day. She was told that there wasn't a band because they had been hired to play the day before for New Year's Day. Eleanor told her French friends about her new experience and they told her that the man she saw walking through the woods is quite interesting. They told her that on October 5th, 1789, Marie Antoinette went to Trianon and saw her page or servant running towards her with a letter from the minister at the palace. The letter said a mob from Paris would be at the gates in an hour. She announced that they should cut through the trees to get to the palace, but they page said no and said he would go through the woods to get the carriage.
Eleanor went back to Versailles several times over the next two years, but she says it was very different and didn't look the way she originally saw it. She did go back with Charlotte in 1904 and they said it was quiet. The buildings didn't look the same and they didn't see the same paths that used to be there. The ravine was gone and the bridge over the ravine wasn't there either. The ladies found the house with the terrace and it didn't look anything like they remembered. There were groups of people walking around and sitting in the shade. Garden seats were everywhere and there were places to buy lemonade. This was extremely opposite from previous visits.
-Shared hallucination experience that was elaborated upon over time. Perhaps Charlotte and Eleanor continued researching and gathering information about the French Revolution to make their story sound better.
-Masked balls, and fancy outfits were actually very common during this time and in this specific area. Some people believe that there was a party nearby that day and some of the people were taking the tour wearing their grand outfits.