(ORDO NEWS) — If there is one factor that makes people believe in their story, even after more than 100 years, it is their reputation. Both Charlotte Ann Mauberly and Eleanor Jourdain were highly educated English women with an impeccable reputation.
They weren’t liars, and both ladies had nothing to gain by making up this story. In fact, it could ruin their reputation for a long time.
In fact, both women were so disturbed by this incident that they didn’t even talk about it to each other until they returned to England a week later.
They knew their reputation was at stake and, coming from conservative English academic families, any talk of a “weird” incident could become controversial and scandalous not only for their careers, but for their families as well.
And when they did discuss this issue, they decided to write separate stories about what they experienced, and then compare the records.
They even made several visits to the Palace of Versailles to identify the “landmarks” and “strange buildings” they had discovered and, above all, to get more information about the “nicely dressed woman” they saw painting in the garden in front of the Petit Trianon, a French castle. Queen Marie Antoinette.
But they found no evidence of what they saw that day. It seemed to them that they saw “ghosts” from a bygone era, which disappeared as suddenly as they appeared.
Not knowing what to do or what to believe, they decided to publish their impressions in a book entitled “The Adventure in 1911” under the pseudonyms Elizabeth Morison and Frances Lamont.
Only after their death in 1937 did people learn about the real authors. As they feared, their impeccable reputation caused even more controversy and huge criticism, and to this day no one knows exactly what the two women actually experienced on that hot August day in Versailles.
The Palace of Versailles in France is a magnificent piece of 17th century architecture spread over 2,000 acres of gardens and fountains.
The Petit Trianon is a small castle on the grounds of the palace, which was given by King Louis XVI to his new wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, as her personal sanctuary. The castle was Marie Antoinette’s “retreat” where she could hide from the prying eyes of courtiers, nobles and diplomats.
The Petit Trianon is where the story of Anne Mauberly and Eleanor Jourdain begins. After visiting the Palace of Versailles, they decided to take a walk along the Petit Trianon. Somehow they missed the right turn and ended up in an unfamiliar lane.
They kept walking and met some strange people along the way. They saw high-ranking officials dressed in long grey-green coats with small three-cornered hats. They saw a house, at the door of which stood a woman and a girl; the woman held out the jug to the girl, and the girl reached for it – and yet the scene was as lifeless as in a painting.
They spoke to a gentleman with a “strange” French accent, dressed in an antique “suit” and a couple of guards dressed in “strange” clothes for the time. Both of them felt some “restlessness” or “stillness in the air”; as Mauberly writes in his book:
“Everything suddenly began to look unnatural, and therefore unpleasant; even the trees seemed to become flat and lifeless, like a tree woven in a tapestry. There were no effects of light and shadow, and the wind did not sway the trees.”
The winding path took Mauberly and Jourdain over the village bridge, and they finally reached the Petit Trianon. There they were in for the biggest surprise.
They saw a woman in a light summer dress, with long hair under a white hat, sitting on the grass in front of the castle, sketching.
Moberly was confused and thought that the woman was a tourist who had come to sketch the gardens. But upon closer inspection, she looked like Marie Antoinette, after she remembered her portrait, which she saw at the exhibition.
The women were deeply moved by what had happened and hurried back, making their way through the palace gardens. On the way back, they found that the strangely dressed officials were gone, the woman with the jug was gone, and the village bridge they had climbed no longer existed.
It seemed like everything that happened was a dream.
They were convinced that what they saw that day was something unreal. Returning back, they did a little research and found a map from 1783, which marked the disappeared places. The bridge, the cottage, and the garden in which Marie Antoinette sketched were exactly where they saw them.
In 1908, Mauberly and Jourdain also found the diary of Madame Eloff, the Queen’s dressmaker, who made the very dress they saw Marie Antoinette wearing that day.
They went back many times and tried to find the same path, but without success. They eventually decided to write about their experiences in a book under pseudonyms, as they did not want to tarnish the reputation they had earned over decades of teaching.
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