Wednesday, March 4, 2020

A 1947 Time Slip to the 1800s

Thanks to John P. Harris for this fascinating story:

East End Bombsite: Napoleonic Timeslip


While on an ‘Anomalies’ themed chatroom back in 1998, I found one user called Elizabeth,
and kept as a regular contact. While discussing themes such as UFO sightings, crop circles, she then mentioned a case that her aunt had experienced after the Second World War. I was curious, so Elizabeth sent fragmented details via instant messenger of her aunt’s incident. Elizabeth’s aunt ‘Beryl’ [actual name omitted on request] who felt she might have slipped back to the early 1800's while exploring bomb sites with her elder sister Daisy.

On enquiry, I was told at the time that Beryl constantly reflects on what she experienced, emphasising it was not a hallucination or a fragment of false memory.

It was 1947, and though the war had ended, it was still a tough time. Beryl as a seven-year-old had returned to her parent’s home after being evacuated from Mile End Road , situated in London's east end. She was sent to live with relatives in Lincolnshire. Even as a child she found her original home rather strange, but spent time like all of the other east end kids by playing hopscotch or skipping in the semi derelict streets.
Beryl and her friends would use one of the battered Victorian lampposts by lashing some old rope on the struts to make a swing. Beryl always wanted to tag along with her older sister Daisy and explore the bombsites, as for most kids they were an adventure playground.

‘Sometimes you can find hidden treasure’ said one of Daisy's friends and added ‘Someone I know found a load of silver 'thrupneys' in an old vase'. Beryl, used to keep ‘mithering’ her elder sister to tag along, Daisy always said no and kept repeating ‘it’s too dangerous.’
However, on this occasion Daisy said ‘Come on then but don’t wander off because you will fall down a massive hole.’

Beryl described this particular day. ‘It was cold we walked what seemed for ages down the grimy damp streets as most of the buildings were in various stages of falling down.’
Beryl told her niece about how dangerous it was. ‘The houses that were partially standing up were propped up with massive wooden frames.’ In addition, you would get ‘half a house’ with the top room window frames with shards of glass sticking out like icicles, tethered to ripped curtains. 

They ended up on a street called Wellclose Square. 'It was an odd place' said Beryl.
She remembered how strange it was that some of the buildings were not touched, but still remained empty as most of the buildings were boarded up, except for one tallish looking house that had a gap in the wall like a giant mouse hole.

The house with the gap in the wall had a back garden, which was choked with weeds, but for some odd reason, Beryl found this particular house enchanting. One of triggers of the experience was the weeds; ‘The smell of the weeds created a strange atmosphere.’
Daisy was close by, but decided to explore an old outhouse and told Beryl to stay put.
Beryl clambered across the garden and decided to sneak into the hole that was under the window.

 As Daisy and her friends were throwing rocks onto the roof of shed, Beryl peeked into the gap, as she was small enough to squeeze through. While crawling through the gap trying to avoid the loose bricks and cobwebs, as she squeezed through, halfway into a room.
Beryl noticed a woman in old-fashioned clothes wearing a white linen cap, peering over big metal pot that was placed above a large open fireplace.

Taking a second glance, two other people appeared out of nowhere, one woman who was dressed in grey clothes wearing a crumpled bonnet, moments later, a man wearing a green coat with ribbings on the front, and a shako hat walked into the room.
Beryl described the scene ‘It was just like out of the Gainsborough films we used to watch at the pictures.’ [Gainsborough Studios, a London based film Production Company who on occasions would produce historical dramas].

Beryl added, ‘Inside the furniture looked really old-fashioned spindly chairs, striped wall coverings even though a large fire was roaring away in the large fireplace, I did not feel any heat.’ As she sneaked in for a closer look, suddenly a small boy who was dressed in a blue calico gown gave Beryl an inquisitive look and waved at her, then began shouting.
Somehow, as the toddler made such a noise, the other two people did not hear him or did not take notice. The boy continued to point and shout though Beryl could not hear any sound, but crept back slowly and ran off.

‘Hey Daisy‘ as she scrambled across the foot strangling weeds, ‘there are people in that empty house.’ Beryl tugged Daisy’s jumper and pulled her towards the garden.
‘What people?’ ‘It’s an empty house?’ said Daisy, ‘she was a bit miffed.’
Daisy still reluctant to follow Beryl across the weed strewn garden ‘you first Daisy,’ said Beryl. Daisy said ‘Alright then I am not scared’ and headed towards the ‘mouse hole’ in the wall. Moments later, Daisy replied ‘there’s nothing here just a dusty room full of bricks and rubble. ‘Beryl then followed inside, all she saw was a pile of wood, rubble and bits of coal strewn against the wall and it smelt damp, which ruled out there ever been a fire. They went back to the same place two days later.

The gap in the wall was not there, Beryl added ‘it looked intact as if there never had been any hole or any form of damage,’ ‘ I even took a closer look at the exact spot,’nothing it seemed untouched.’ I asked Elizabeth, what she thought. Her viewpoint was that the location had a curious history and highlighted the connection of the ‘people’ Beryl had seen.

Elizabeth studied the description of the man by researching historical records, as the man, whom Beryl describes, may have been a soldier who might have been off to war.
or had returned home, he was dressed in the British army uniform that could have dated to the Napoleonic war (1803-15).

© John p Harris 

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