MOBERLY AND JOURDAIN’S ‘ADVENTURE’ AT THE PETIT TRIANON


On 10th August 1901 two English academics, Miss Charlotte Moberly and Miss Eleanor Jourdain, respectively Principal and prospective Vice-Principal of St Hugh's Hall Oxford (later to be St Hugh’s College), decided to visit the Petit Trianon at Versailles.

In the Versailles park they rapidly became lost as they attempted to find the Petit Trianon using a guide book. The weather was hot and oppressive, and they found themselves lapsing into a strange dissociated fuge state as they wandered the grounds. They met and conversed with several peculiarly dressed people with strange French accents; passed several odd scenes and people; and eventually were conducted by the last of these to the entrance to the Petit Trianon, when everything returned to normal.

Discussing it afterwards they eventually decided that they had somehow been transported into the past and on attempting to replicate their route again later found they could not – everything was different and smaller. Exhaustive researches over eventually years enabled them to identify and locate (to their satisfaction if not everyone else’s) every scene and person to the Court of Marie Antoinette just prior to the Revolution. They came to believe that they had 'Entered into an act of memory of Marie Antoinette' (whatever that may mean) .

So powerful an impression did this experience make on them that they anonymously published ten years later an account of it and their researches validating it, under the simple title of 'An Adventure'. The book became a sensation, especially after their identities became known, went through five editions, and is now cited as the best example of a 'time slip'.

It is reasonably easy to reconstruct what their route must have been (see the MAP), and I followed it on 10th August 2016, taking a video for this web site. It proves to be impossible to reconcile their account with the reality on the ground.


wolstan-dixie@hotmail.co.uk





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