Three 1950s youths in a medieval plague village

Kersey in 1957. Although Jack Merriott's watercolor presents an idealized image of the village – it was commissioned for use in a railway advertising campaign – it does give an idea of just how 'old' Kersey must have looked to strangers in the year it became central to a 'timeslip' case.

Kersey in 1957. Although Jack Merriott’s watercolor presents an idealized image of the village – it was commissioned for use in a railway advertising campaign – it does give an idea of just how ‘old’ Kersey must have looked to strangers in the year it became central to a ‘timeslip’ case.

Looking back, the really strange thing was the silence. The way the church bells stopped ringing as the little group of naval cadets neared the village. The way even the ducks stood quiet and motionless by the shallow stream that ran across the road where the main street began.

And, when the boys thought about it afterward, they recalled that even the autumn birdsong faded as they neared the first houses. The wind had dropped to nothing, too.

Not a leaf stirred on the trees they passed. And the trees appeared to cast no shadows.

The street itself was quite deserted—not so odd, perhaps, for a Sunday morning in 1957, especially in the rural heart of England. But even the remotest British hamlets displayed some signs of modernity by then—cars parked by the roadside, phone wires strung along the roads, aerials on roofs—and there was nothing of that sort in this village. In fact, the houses on the high street all looked ancient; they were ragged, hand-built, timber-framed: “almost medieval in appearance,” one boy thought.

The three, all Royal Navy cadets, walked up to the nearest building and pressed their faces to its grimy windows. They could see that it was some sort of butcher’s shop, but what they glimpsed in the interior was even more unsettling. As one of them recalled for the author Andrew MacKenzie:

There were no tables or counters, just two or three whole oxen carcasses which had been skinned and in places were quite green with age. There was a green-painted door and windows with smallish glass panes, one at the front and one at the side, rather dirty-looking. I remember that as we three looked through that window in disbelief at the green and mouldy green carcasses… the general feeling certainly was one of disbelief and unreality… Who would believe that in 1957 that the health authorities would allow such conditions?

They peered into another house.

It, too, had greenish, smeary windows. And it, too, appeared uninhabited. The walls had been crudely whitewashed, but the rooms were empty; the boys could see no possessions, no furniture, and they thought the rooms themselves appeared to be “not of modern day quality.” Spooked now, the cadets turned back and hurried out of the strange village. The track climbed a small hill, and they did not turn back until they had reached the top. Then, one of the three remembered, “suddenly we could hear the bells once more and saw the smoke rising from chimneys, [though] none of the chimneys was smoking when we were in the village… We ran for a few hundred yards as if to shake off the weird feeling.” [MacKenzie pp.6-9]

Naval cadets parade in Chatham, Kent, a few years before the Kersey timeslip case.

Naval cadets parade in Chatham, Kent, a few years before the Kersey timeslip case.

What happened to those three boys on that October morning more than 50 years ago remains something of a mystery. They were taking part in a map-reading exercise that ought to have been straightforward; the idea was to navigate their way across four or five miles of countryside to a designated point, then return to base and report what they had seen—which, if all went to plan, should have been the picturesque Suffolk village of Kersey. But the more they thought about it, the more the cadets wondered whether something very strange had occurred to them. Years later, William Laing, the Scottish boy who led the group, put it this way: “It was a ghost village, so to speak. It was almost as if we had walked back in time… I experienced an overwhelming feeling of sadness and depression in Kersey, but also a feeling of unfriendliness and unseen watchers which sent shivers up one’s back… I wondered if we’d knocked at a door to ask a question who might have answered it? It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Laing, who came from Perthshire in the Highlands of Scotland, was a stranger to this part of the east of England. So were his friends Michael Crowley (from Worcestershire) and Ray Baker (a Cockney). That was the point. All three were 15 years old, and had only recently signed up to join the Royal Navy. That made it easy for the petty officers in charge of their training to confirm that they had reached the village they were supposed to find just by checking their descriptions. As it was, their superiors, Laing recalled, were “rather skeptical” when they told them of their odd experience, but they “laughed it off and agreed that we’d seen Kersey all right.” [MacKenzie pp.8-9]

There the matter rested until the late 1980s, when Laing and Crowley, by then both living in Australia, talked by phone and chewed over the incident. Laing had always been troubled by it; Crowley, it emerged, did not remember it in as much detail as his old friend, but he did think that something strange had happened, and he recalled the silence, the lack of aerials and streetlights, and the bizarre butcher’s shop. That was enough to prompt Laing to write to the author of a book he’d read—Andrew MacKenzie, a leading member of the Society for Psychical Research.

MacKenzie was intrigued by Bill Laing’s letter and recognized that it might describe a case of retrocognition—the SPR term for what we would call a “timeslip” case. Looking at the details, he thought it was possible that the three cadets had seen Kersey not as it was in 1957, but as it had been centuries earlier. A long correspondence (he and Laing exchanged letters for two years) and a foray into local libraries with the help of a historian from Kersey helped to confirm that view. In 1990, Laing flew to England, and the two men walked through the village, reliving the experience.

What makes this case particularly interesting is that retrocognition is probably the rarest reported of psychical phenomena. There have only ever been a handful cases, of which by far the most famous remains the “Versailles incident“ of 1901. On that occasion, two highly educated British women—the principal and vice principal of St Hugh’s College, Oxford—were wandering through the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris, when they had a series of experiences that later convinced them they had seen the gardens as they were before the French Revolution. Detailed research suggested to them that one of the figures they encountered might have been Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI’s wife, the queen of France.

Andrew MacKenzie (1911-2001), a New Zealander, was a writer of detective stories and leading parapsychologist in the 1970s and 1980s.

Andrew MacKenzie (1911-2001), a New Zealander, was a writer of detective stories and leading parapsychologist in the 1970s and 1980s.

MacKenzie’s research into the Kersey incident led him to very similar conclusions, and he featured it as the lead case in a book he published on retrocognition, Adventures in Time (1997). Several factors led him to conclude that the cadets’ experience had been genuine: the obvious sincerity of Laing and his friend Crowley (Ray Baker was also traced, but turned out to remember nothing of the experience); the detail of their recollections; and a few persuasive discoveries. Among the details that impressed MacKenzie most was the realization that the house that Laing had identified as a butcher’s shop—which was a private residence in 1957, and remained one when Kersey was revisited in 1990—dated to about 1350 and actually had been a butcher’s shop at least as early as 1790. The author was also struck by the suggestive fact that the season seemed to change as the cadets entered the village (inside Kersey, Laing recalled, “it was verdant… and the trees were that magnificent green colour one finds in spring or early summer”).  Then there was the puzzle of the village church; Laing noted that the party had not seen it after they descended into the village and the pall of silence fell. Indeed, he explicitly recalled that “there was no sign of a church. I would certainly have seen it as I had a field of observation of 360 degrees,” and Crowley likewise recalled “no church or pub.” [MacKenzie pp. 4, 6, 11]   All of which seemed hard to explain, since St. Mary’s, Kersey, dates to the 14th century and is the principal landmark in the district, readily visible to anybody passing along the main street. MacKenzie, basing his case on the history of St Mary’s, interpreted this anomaly as evidence to help pinpoint the likely date on which Laing and his companions “visited” the village. Noting that construction of the tower was halted by the ravages of the Black Death (1348-9)—which killed half of the population of Kersey–MacKenzie concluded that the cadets might have seen it as it had been in the aftermath of the plague, when the shell of the half-constructed church would have been hidden by trees. And, since Laing and Crowley also recalled that the village buildings had glazed windows (a rarity in the Middle Ages), MacKenzie further suggested that the most likely date was c.1420, when the church remained unfinished, but the village was growing rich from the wool trade. [Kerridge p.5]

It’s a great story. But, looked at through the eyes of an historian, is there some other explanation for the events of 1957?

The Bell Inn, Kersey, dates from 1378 and is only one of a number of medieval buildings in the village. Photo: Robert Edwards, made available under CCL

Well, the first thing to say about Kersey is that it is exactly the sort of place that might have confused a group of strangers entering it for the first time. The village is certainly ancient—it was first mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon will of c.900—and it still boasts a large number of buildings dating from the medieval period, so many that it has become a favorite location for film-makers and is noted, by no less an authority than Nikolaus Pevsner, as “the most picturesque village in South Suffolk.” [Pevsner p.290]  Among its attractions are the 14th-century Bell Inn and several thatched, half-timbered buildings. It’s not hard to imagine that these striking remnants might linger in the memory longer than the more humdrum architecture alongside them, producing, over time, the notion that a witness had visited a place considerably older than expected.

As it turns out, there’s also a good explanation for the cadets’ failure to notice wires and aerials in Kersey. The village was not hooked up to the mains until the early 1950s, and then only after protests from the Suffolk Preservation Society, which argued strenuously for the preservation of its skyline. [Electrical Review p.414; Electrical Times p.300]  The revealing outcome of these protests may be found in the British parliamentary papers of the period, which reported that “negotiations have resulted in the overhead line being carried behind the houses on either side of the street and a cable being laid underground at the only point where the street has to be crossed.” [Command Papers p.96]

What, though, of the other details? When I first read MacKenzie’s account, I was worried by the mention of windows, since glass was expensive, and thus rare, in the 14th and 15th centuries. [Cantor p.139]  And while it’s possible that Kersey’s wealth did make it an exception in this period, one wonders why—if it was wealthy—its houses would have been devoid of furniture. There are other problems with the dating, too, not least the discrepancy between the boys’ description (of a settlement abandoned, as it might have been in 1349) and MacKenzie’s “wealthy village” of 1420.

Another look at old Kersey. This postcard, painted by AR Quentin and published by Raphael Tuck & Son of Ipswich, dates to c.1912.

Another look at old Kersey. This postcard, painted by AR Quentin and published by Raphael Tuck & Son of Ipswich, dates to c.1912.

Yet what bothers me most about the cadets’ account is something that MacKenzie never thought about, and that’s the question of whether a medieval village would have had a butcher’s shop. Such places did exist, but they were found almost exclusively in towns; meat was expensive, which meant that most peasants’ diets remained largely vegetarian, and when animals were slaughtered in a village—for a saints’ day feast, perhaps—they were hard to keep fresh and would have been consumed immediately. [Mortimer pp.10-13, 93-4]  Yes, meat consumption did rise steadily in the late 14th century (from “a tenth or less of the food budget to a quarter or a third of the total”), but the evidence we have suggests that beef was only rarely eaten; in the village of Sedgeford, in nearby Norfolk, only three cattle were slaughtered a year around this time. [Dyer pp.85-6]  Sedgeford was only about half the size of Kersey, admittedly, but even so it stretches credulity to imagine a shop with two or three whole ox carcasses in stock as early as 1420, especially when it’s remembered that Kersey had its own weekly market, where fresh meat would have been available, and which would have provided fierce competition.

What this suggests, I think, is that the cadets’ experience is better explained some other way. Some key elements of the incident—the silence, the lack of life—are highly suggestive of derealization, a psychological condition in which the real world seems unreal (as was the Versailles case; indeed, MacKenzie notes that “when I quoted to Mr. Laing Miss Moberly’s description of the trees in the park at Versailles… being ‘flat and lifeless, like a wood worked in tapestry,’ he replied that this was ‘spot on.’”) [Evans pp.34-98; MacKenzie p.7]  And the lack of agreement between witnesses (remember that Roy Baker recalled nothing unusual about Kersey) is also striking.

A butcher's stall, from a 1551 painting by the Dutch master Pieter Aertsen.

A butcher’s stall, from a 1551 painting by the Dutch master Pieter Aertsen.

Of course, none of this solves the mystery of why two cadets, Laing and Crowley, were in such close agreement. But here it’s worth pointing out (as I have before) that there is a reason why “timeslip” cases usually have multiple witnesses: the passage of time, and a process of mutual reinforcement as the case is reviewed again and again, accentuate the odd and smooth out differences—just as a study of reports of the Indian Rope Trick published in Nature demonstrated that the strangest accounts were those said to have been witnessed longest ago. [Wiseman & Lamont]

No, I’d love to believe it—really I would. But without better evidence, I can’t quite bring myself to concede that these three youths really did travel back in time.

Sources

Leonard Cantor. The Changing English Countryside, 1400-1700. London: RKP, 1987; Christopher Dyer. Everyday Life in Medieval England. London: Vantage, 2000; Command papers. Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons. London: HMSO, 1951. Vol. XX; Electrical Review vol. 145 (1949); Electrical Times vol.116 (1949); Hilary Evans. Alternate States of Consciousness. Wellingborough: Aquarian Press, 1989; Eric Kerridge. Textile Manufactures in Early Modern England. Manchester: MUP, 1988; Andrew Mackenzie. Adventures in Time. London: Athlone Press, 1997; Ian Mortimer. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England. London: Vintage, 2009; Nikolaus Pevsner. The Buildings of England: Suffolk. London: Penguin, 1961; Richard Wiseman and Peter Lamont. ‘Unravelling the rope trick.’ Nature 383 (1996) pp.212-13.

57 thoughts on “Three 1950s youths in a medieval plague village

  1. Great post my friend. As a child i experienced a similar phenomenon with my friends… crawling through a hedge and entering what appeared to be another realm. When you are younger it doesnt seem odd, so you dont notice, however as you grow older you tell yourself it was just your imagination. sad really.

  2. The scientist Ivan T. Sanderson, in his book “More ‘Things’” gave a very interesting–and surprisingly convincing–story of being on a country road in Haiti and suddenly finding himself “back” in medieval Paris. If you haven’t read it, try to check it out. I’d be curious to know what you make of it.

    Congratulations on your new home, by the way!

  3. its amazing how much we dont understand about time and space our existence seems more and more “static” all the time

  4. I give time slips the benefit of the doubt.

    Personally, with all the literature stacking up about the non-linear nature of time and how so much of it depends on our perception of our existence, I have to wonder whether it’s possible for time to be more “porous” than we perceive. More like the holes in a sponge. These holes would be of various sizes and lengths, worming their way backward and forward and up and down and sideways through existence, transporting energy/matter of all sizes — as big as a village or entire galaxy, or as small as a person or bit of bacteria — all over the universe.

    I find it plausible that someone could get momentarily caught up in one of these things, and find themselves in a different perception or construct of reality — possibly a different location in spacetime — and not just a hallucination.

    • It occurs to me, that if such things happen frequently, they may be easy to miss. Imagine walking in a wood and suddenly being in that wood a century or two earlier; you likely wouldn’t even notice!

  5. The op sounds like a bad acid trip to me. I had a psychedelic experience that was shared with not only me but another friend. There was a mansion where a solid field had stood hours earlier. Time kep repeating itself. 1:12 AM multiple times for 6 hours. I would go more into the story but my memory is a little hazy from that experience. However you could read the full story and multiple similar ones on http://www.erowid.com and a list of multiple other drug experience sites. Not sure which one I posted it on but I am almost sure it is erowid.

    • I’m no stranger to psilocybe…years ago. The thing is, these guys are 15 year old boys in the 1950s on a recce for the Naval Cadets. It’s before Flower Power or recreational drug use…there’s no suspicion that they’d been on a psychedelic trip.

      • As it was, their superiors, Laing recalled, were “rather skeptical” when they told them of their odd experience, but they “laughed it off and agreed that we’d seen Kersey all right.” [MacKenzie pp.8-9]

        Maybe they we’re testing an experimental drug on their new recruits
        But more seriously I believe time slips could be plausible, this certainly is a weird case, one of many also.

      • Once, in a different place in time, I had a psychodelic experience. Yes, I “tripped the light fantiastic!”

        I was so blown away by the experience, I read every book I could get my hands on about the experience, the culture and the chemisrty.

        Turns out, to make a long story short, LSD, only “turns on” chemicals and systems in your brain, that already exist. The outside source is merely a stimuli to what GOD already put there. Now, I can’t remember what I learned about the chemical construct on the brain when in it comes to mushrooms.

        It’s true that the 3 boys could have unwitting digested something that SENT them. But, it’s just as likely that our brains are capable of awareness that is, as yet undocumented in a legitimate way, without the need for an external stimuli.

        Interesting post. Love this kinda stuff.

      • I would beg to differ with you on this point. I can’t speak for what was happening in the UK, but in the US at that time, the CIA, US army and other agencies and institutions were heavily engaged in testing drugs, even the yet not popular LSD on unsuspecting individuals. You can find a host of details in details in Hank Aberalli’s book, “A Terrible Mistake” that is about the CIA’s massive and long-lived program.

        My personal experience seems to indicate that I was given a dose of LSD or something similar on a Saturday morning breakfast in early 1957 and which hit me as I became involved in off-duty, weekend activities. I suspect that something similar happened to these three, unsuspecting candidates. It would not be uncommon for them to have a co-mingled experience under such conditions.

      • Hiya AS, I know about the testing done on volunteer, and otherwise, servicemen and some bad practice occurred over the years…likely still does. As we don’t know what really happened with these boys, I guess nothing should be ruled out completely.

        That said, given their ages and the context given in the Mike Dash article, it’s an explanation that doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve enjoyed the comments in the thread and have read a little more…and still find the account a strange one.

      • Agreed, In my experience when a group of close friends have a psychadelic experience together the “trips” are very similar. If one person is creeped out by something they are all creeped out by something. If it makes one man laugh your all gonna laugh. It might even make you accuse your neighbor of being the lightmeister and hogging all the light or even tell the moon to stop being so whoopee goldberg. good times good times

  6. What an excellent review of a fascinating account. Wherever I see Mike Dash as a byline, it’s always the promise of a detailed and interesting article. Whereas in ‘The Devil’s Hoofprints,’ it became abundantly clear that there had been a fuss over very little, in this case, I’m less certain.

    This isn’t to say that one explanation, or other, is accurate, rather than I’ll suspend judgement and scratch my chin a little…

    The ageing carcasses seen through the window wouldn’t be there in the 1950s. Likewise, glazed windows and butcher shops wouldn’t be there in the 14th Century. Without the vivid account of these carcasses, the simple explanation of ‘Townies’ being overwhelmed by the basics of rural England would be an obvious explanation.

    It’s an anomalous puzzler. Thanks for posting it.

  7. A UK researcher, Dave Sadler, has a story of visiting a church with his daughter and a friend. His kid was running around a building and, he describes, as she ran around a corner, she appeared immediately on the other side. I’ve no idea if he’s telling the truth, but his account sprung to mind when I read the article. He tells it on Paul Kimball’s podcast…here.

    The best known is probably the Moberley-Jourdain incident when two women thought they’d stumbled into the 18th Century gardens of Louis XVI.

    They passed this road, and entered a lane, where unknown to them they passed their destination. Moberly noticed a woman shaking a white cloth out of a window and Jourdain noticed an old deserted farmhouse, outside of which was an old plough. At this point they claimed that a feeling of oppression and dreariness came over them. They then saw some men that looked like palace gardeners, who told them to go straight on. Moberly later described the men as “very dignified officials, dressed in long greyish green coats with small three-cornered hats.” Jourdain noticed a cottage with a woman and a girl in the doorway. The woman was holding out a jug to the girl. Jourdain described it as a “tableau vivant”, a living picture, much like Madame Tussaud’s waxworks. Moberly did not observe the cottage, but felt the atmosphere change. She 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.

    The emotional responses reflect those of the boys in Kersey and tie in with the ‘derealisation’ explanation. Odd stuff!

  8. I enjoyed the OP very much. I also enjoyed the other stories posted by other members. I believe this could be possible.

  9. Interesting. Especially since I had an odd experience a few years ago that I’ve come to think might be “timeslip” related. If you are interested in hearing the details, let me know.

  10. I have had an experience like this many years ago, and it was only seeing this thread that has brought the memory of it back to me.

    I was out on a work night out and we had just finished having a meal together. I had had a couple of drinks but certainly wasn’t drunk as the night was still young. We had decided to go on to a local wine bar and then on to a nightclub much later in the evening. I had persuaded one of my work mates not to go home early as planned and to come with us to the wine bar. My work mate said he would call his wife to tell her he was going to be home late. Since he had very little credit on his mobile. I passed him my mobile as I had unlimited minutes.

    As we were walking down towards the wine bar, it started to thunder and begin lashing down with heavy rain. At this point, we all began to run down the road, my mate was still chatting to his wife on my phone. All I can remember is a sudden very bright flash, almost like lightning going right off in my face, it was blinding, and I stopped running. I don’t know what happened next, but when I opened my eyes we were near the wine bar. Everybody was chatting and being jovial as if nothing had happened. The rain had stopped and the storm seemed to have passed. I was totally confused and trying to process how we had got across town in the blink of an eye. The wine bar was a good ten minutes walk from where the restaurant had been, yet here we were about to go inside. It was like I had been snatched from reality and then popped back in. Everything seemed hazy and a bit unreal until I regained my focus.

    I turned to my mate and asked him for my phone back. He looked at me stupid and declared that he had given me my phone back ten minutes ago. He made a joke about how many beers had I sunk at the restaurant? I felt in my coat pocket and sure enough, the phone was there. I know this sounds crazy, but i have no recollection of that walk to the wine bar, no memory of him giving me the phone back, and despite the jokes my mate made, I definitely was not drunk. Has anybody had this before? Can anybody explain what may have happened in that time period? But most importantly, how did I forget this even happened until now?

    • Sounds like a mini seizure happened near the wine bar. That was the “flash.” Wasn’t too bad, just knocked out ten minutes of your memory. Luckily you didn’t have a stroke. Your brain probably avoided thinking about the incident, because it was distressing.

  11. Cool story. I’d like to experience something similar to a ‘time-slip’ and see if my skepticism could tell the difference between really weird or really psychological? Even better, it’d be great if a famous skeptic had an experience and couldn’t squeeze it into any of the explanations they’d applied to everyone else…

    Over the years I’ve had a few odd experiences and a handful of them have proven that skepticism doesn’t always matter in separating realreality from what you think is reality!

    No idea in other words.

    • It sounds nothing like derealisation. I suffer from that myself and it does not alter you perception like that, you are still in the normalk world things just feel a little unfamiliar but you are still aware of whats going on. So derealisation is a rubbish even laughable explanation for this. And as you mention deffinately not a group activity. I love these time slip cases, absolutely fascinating.

    • Wow interesting story, yet confusing I imagine. I have heard something very simular to that. A friend of mine said he was sitting on a car bonet havin a smoke with his mate. They noticed something weird in the sky n were watching it and then there was a flash from the side of the drive and then they said time had litterally skipped half hour and the cigerette has all but diminshed to nothing. Both of them recalled the experience.

  12. Ergot poisoning could be a possibility.
    It’s also been blamed for the hysteria surrounding the Salem Witch trials.

  13. To OP. – Yes the story is truly facinating and problery fictional as well still nice though.

    Reptiliannogmar, I tryed something similair before. I had a party lasting for three days – Thursday to sunday. We didnt sleep but used a lot of drugs. On the second day getting closer to the third I started to see invisible beings. There was # loads of insects. They where like in another dimension or something like that. Spiders crawling all over the walls and on the table etc. For some reason I wasnt afraid even though I dont like spiders much.

    It was really just like I saw into another dimension or something like that.

    After convincing myself that it was problery just in my mind, I started to feel a little better again.

    Thanks,

  14. I always enjoy time-slip stories even though I think time travel is impossible. Presuming the story is “true” as perceived by these boys, if not the mushroom or Ergot ingestion, then mold or gas that put them in suggestible state where they built the shared hallucination by talking each other through it and it became “real” to them.

    As for the fellow with the time blank, my brother went through this all the time. He had epilepsy and more frustrating than the petit mal and grand mal seizures were the unnoticed ones, which started, left him functional, then ended and he’d forget everything in between. These were normally brought on by, yes, lightning storms or power surges.

      • Nope your right the ods would be quit high for it to happen but shared hallucinations would wich can happen with out drugs of any kind all it takes is a suggestive and a suggestable mind in sink not likely for 3 but not unheard of for young kids they could have seen anything and mistaken it for a dead animal like a pile of berlap sacks perhaps. I have seen groups of 5 kids share hallucinations with no object their at all (it was a blur walking down the hallway). Altho none as indepth as the one described in story so I cant say its real. but I cant really discredit it either. But I can tell you the time blanks that I have experinced the time was the same from the last time I remembered to the time I came back wondering how did I get 4mi down the road and turn on to the highway.

  15. to Gman1803
    I have had this happen but it was when I was driving home from work alot same place every time same road to highway intersection so I had to still be in control of my actions but it was also right after I got off work every time so it could have been my mind going on auto pilot for a short period or a state of relaxation where the brain stops recording memory or something to that effect I have had it happen when walking across town also but not nearly as often. do you remember thinking any thing at the time cause I cant and by that I mean the missing time. Btw I dont do drugs or drink so its not directly related to that.

    To whoever is saying you cant have group derealization its more like one person is having it and is surounded by easly influnced people usually the others dont see it untill you say something about it or point something out that seams out of the ordanary and it does spread its just very rare.

    • The sticking-point of the account, for me, is the boys seeing the rotting carcasses of oxen through the dirty windows. Derealisation wouldn’t account for this scenario. That full carcasses would be in a building, as opposed to an abattoir, is peculiar enough; placing it in 1957 is even more unusual.

      The ergot idea that’s been suggested by a few posters isn’t an attractive one. It’s been used as a one-stop-shop explanation for decades and covers ghosts, UFOs, witches and now ‘time-slips.’ The problem is that the amount of ergot they’d need to have eaten would have kicked in the gag-reflex. From where did they get the ergot-affected bread or other food? Likewise, the descriptions of silence doesn’t chime with the typical hallucinatory experience where all the senses are sensitised…hence psychedelic music.

      Derealisation and being high could account for some aspects of the experience. Can they explain why they saw nobody, heard no sounds and saw the mouldy carcasses of dead livestock? It’s puzzling stuff!

  16. Great thread OP I love to read about time slips. Could it be possible the soldiers were part of LSD testing? The US and UK tested it on alot of soldiers around that time period.

  17. Maybe this is what happens to all the missing person’s cases every year. Maybe some of them are getting stuck in a different time. That sure would suck and help explain why some people seem to vanish off the face of the earth.

  18. Intriguing! Rather than making the assumption that the time-slip (if that’s what it is) has to be to one particular point in time (with the problem of accounting for the historical anomalies), is it possible that they entered some kind of ‘nexus’ ..a composite or overlay of different, relatively close, time frames? That’s the first thought that occured to me but – could also just be clutching at straws!

  19. There is another interesting possibility that I’ve come across. In 1957, the BBC was filming a documentary entitled “The England of Elizabeth”. It ran for a little less than a half hour, but the opening scenes were of Tudor houses and streets. I’d think it worth the time to try and see where those scenes were filmed because it might well have been Kersey, and that would explain a great deal about the butcher shop, the sides of beef being props, and also the “greasy windows”, as glass is routinely dulled on sets so as not to cast light reflections and cause film artifacts & lens flares.

    I may be wrong, but if it was dressed as a set, and the shooting done, or not yet started, our intrepid cadets might have simply walked onto a dressed set while the dressers and props folks were away.

    respects,

    • An interesting suggestion, thank you, though a quick dig for more details reveals few precise details of the locations chosen for this short. I’m intrigued to see it was produced by British Transport Films, though, which certainly does seem to tie in with Kersey and its promotion as a tourist attraction.

      It would be possible to check out the theory in more detail, as The England of Elizabeth is now available as part of a DVD compilation. If anyone has access to it, let us know.

  20. Great thread I swear somthing very similar happen to me when I was a kid. And I just played it off as my imagination. Now that I think about it more it seems more plausable.

    The movie Timeline is a great explanation of some of these situations

  21. I rule out the use of drugs completely.

    LSD, LSA, MESCALINE and PSILOCYBIN, do not send you into other dimensions, or different realities.
    The effects of the mentioned drugs above are merely like looking through a Kaleidoscope, and your whole hearing system is like it is being manipulated by a Digital Sound Synthesizer that can create weird and wonderful effects from the sounds that are around you. Time seems to slow down, but that is because your senses are distorted. Its just an illusion.

    This thread resembles Amphetamine Psychosis, which is like your REM Dreams are being morphed with Reality.
    However, no two people can have the exact same Amphetamine Psychosis Trip, at the exact same time.
    That would be like saying that two people can have the exact same dream, at the exact same time.

    DMT, again is like Amphetamine Psychosis, fused with an LSD Trip. You get distorted visuals/audio when the eyes are open, but amazing like life dreams that you could never imagine when the eyes are closed.

    Cannabis does not even deserve a mention on this.

    So, like me, when you have taken the drugs mentioned above, you will know that this thread is not related to drugs in any way.

    I cannot give you the scientific explanation, because I am not a Scientist but Drugs is not the answer. I hope while I am alive, that someone can give strong evidence to this phenomenon.

    Interesting stuff OP. Thank you for this.

  22. I’m of the belief that when people from varying backgrounds, ages, etc… all report stories that are similar, it is most likely more than just a “story”

    I’ve also noticed that these time slip stories are generally so peculiar and unprovoked, perhaps sometimes life is stranger than fiction. I mean who would come up with this stuff?

    If someone goes to a “haunted” house and gets spooked, well there are a ton of explanations, and after all they went in SEARCH of this alleged activity.

    In the case of the time slips, people are generally just going about their lives, and BAM they pop in to another place in time. There have been many recent thought provoking time slip events posted here on ATS. I’ve had my own strange situations with space and time, and although I dont claim for a second to be able to wrap my mind around it, it definitely has an air of believability to it.

  23. Was very confusing. I thought I was losing my mind when it happened. I can recall now that for weeks after, I did google different articles relating to stuff like this as it had got me so freaked. Yet after a time, I must have totally forgotten about it, until I saw this thread and the memory resurfaced.

  24. I find these stories absolutely fascinating and myself believe that time slips do occur. If it were indeed a case of derealization though how would both boys have it at exactly the same time?
    That would be an anomaly in itself

  25. Interesting piece. I’ve been reading more and more about these so-called “time slips.” I do have a question about the “derealization” explanation. Can it be experience by a group or is it just confined to one person? Is it possible three people can imagine the same things at the same exact time?

    It also is odd that the third guy remembers nothing weird, but the other two said all three saw the same things. And, if the article is correct, and all three related their story at the time, perhaps those they told it to could be found and see if they remember the incident and if all three agreed on what happened.

    • I should probably have gone into more detail about derealization than I did. It is a solitary state, and hence cannot in itself account for the whole of the reported experience. I do tend to think that some sort of process of mutual reinforcement must have gone on between Bill Laing and Mike Crowley long before Andrew MacKenzie came on the scene, but what’s interesting here is that while Laing was clearly the core percipient, through whose lens the whole experience has been refracted, it was apparently Crowley who first recalled the experience in Kersey and mentioned it to Laing – at least, that’s what MacKenzie reports.

      • Senses.

        So there were sounds, but those sounds were only heard before they actually entered the town. Once they were inside of the towns limits, all was silent.

        Obviously, the sense of sight seemed to be working just fine.

        It is the other senses that I am now curious about. Such as:

        Was there any smell coming from the building where the oxen carcasses were?

        Surely, they touched the windows and probably doors. I am wondering if there was anything noticeably strange. Maybe the windows felt cold; or felt hot; or maybe even lacked any noticeable temperature. Also the textures of those materials.

        Taste….. gonna skip that one.

        Just curious, and thinking ‘out loud.’

  26. A few thoughts.

    The reason Ray Baker did not remember anything could be explained by fear of ridicule, either self-imposed or from the external world. Many people deny their own experiences from fear that they are going crazy or of other people thinking they are crazy.

    The house may have had no furniture because it was unoccupied at the time.

    “… an overwhelming feeling of sadness and depression in Kersey…” suggests some great misfortune had occured. Conjecture – was there to be some local festivity that was instead turned into a tragedy. Perhaps a wedding that went terriby wrong for some reason. This could explain the rotting oxen and the unoccupied house. This could, also, be why the boys were drawn to those two buildings (by the unseen watchers?).

    A search through local records of the time (if they exist)may turn-up some plausible explaination. Generalizations of history do not take into consideration the individual history of people. “Common” practice does not nullify the “uncommon”.

  27. I’ve particularly enjpyed reading about these timeslip cases on your blog. I’m struck by some environmental similarities, an odd quality of light, a flat look to things, unusual silence, to mention a few. I wonder if such descriptors would be found consistantly upon a review of other cases? Unlike, say ufo’s, retrocognition doesn’t seem well enough fixed in the public conciousness for such similarities to be explained by one “expecting” their experience to exhibit such qualities. Even if nothing paranormal is occuring in the objective world, perhaps these perceptual characteristics could be indicative of specific neurological events, or clues to such? Looking closer, I see you mentioned much the same above. Sorry, my own malfunctiong neurology, perhaps:) Thanks for a fascinating blog!

    • Thanks, Scott. The “flat” look is definitely a key to understanding the experiences, I think. It is common to many retrocognition accounts (not Nechtanesmere) and is also mentioned quite frequently in other “high strangeness” cases.

      • Interesting “flatness” wasn’t mentioned in nechtanesmere. Perhaps because of the darkness? Or ironically, perhaps because she’d been drinking. Even if alcohol was not responsible for what she saw, it could perhaps alter the character of a neurological episode, or dull her perception of something external and odd which she was witnessing.

  28. […] Pensando bem, aquele silêncio era mesmo uma coisa muito estranha: os sinos das igrejas pararam de tocar e até os patos se calaram e ficaram quietos no pequeno riacho no começo da rua principal enquanto o trio de cadetes navais se aproximava do vilarejo […]

  29. The suggestion that the village happened to be decked out for filming when the boys arrived seems an explanation that is worth checking thoroughly. A small town near here (Somerset, UK) is often used for the filming of period TV series and dramas. Naturally cars and any modern stuff are banned or disguised during these periods. The same happened in this small town about 20 years ago when the BBC were filming.

    Quite likely at this time on a Sunday any filming had stopped, and locals were still in bed (it was the day for a sleep in) or were having breakfast or were in the church.

    Another point I can add from personal experience is that I used to cycle around the countryside at about the same age as these lads in the same period, and the changes in the atmosphere I noticed as a townie were quite marked. I recognize this flatness and stillness they described and the eerie feeling it generates, as if the land was cursed or blasted in some way, but I realised it was some curiosity of the light and atmospherics. Interesting!

  30. I had a similar experience when I was about 12. There was a very old cemetary near where I lived with very old headstones. I used to go there and read the headstones. One day I was bike riding with a friend and we went to the cemetary and followed the road behind it, we came to an old falling down barn. It seemed as though we were looking through cellophane and the barn was not old, there was a farm house, with a women standing on the pourch, a man standing on the walk to the house and children running in and out of the barn. The woman was staring at us and the man turned around as though he could see us and started walking towards us. We took off, that night the barn burnt down. We NEVER went there again.

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