This apparent time slip case from south-west England highlights one of the most interesting problems of such reports. While many people will no doubt regard such experiences as essentially subjective, there remains the problem of explaining exactly where the witnesses go during their sojourn.
In August 1941 two young sisters, aged twenty and eighteen, got off a bus at St. Mary Road [pseudonym] in order to walk along the very familiar road to Upper St. Mary [pseudonym] where a dance was being held in the village.
It was 6.20pm when they set off along a road which they had cycled along many times. It was a pleasant summer evening, and they were anticipating an enjoyable night out with friends. They were country girls used to walking distances even at night and kept up a brisk pace. Ahead of them lay Home Farm [pseudonym], and they could hear the barking of the rather nasty farm dogs they usually outran on their bicycles at other times. It was then they made the fateful decision that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. They would leave the road at this point, circle round the farm inside the hedge, and rejoin the road beyond the farm and the noisy, threatening dogs. They estimated the time as being about 6.40pm as they walked past a hayrick in the first grass field, entered the second, green field, and headed back to the hedge to rejoin the road. They climbed what they thought was the hedge by the road and dropped down .... into a ploughed field. It is at this point that what I like to refer to as the 'Brigadoon factor' set in. Both sisters agree that, although it was about 6.45pm on a late summer's evening, from the moment they dropped down into the ploughed field it appeared to be dark. Except that there was a very large red moon which, totally out of character for a harvest moon, both dazzled them and threw long, dark shadows from trees and hedges. They both felt an overwhelming sense of foreboding or evil as they climbed hedge after hedge, always dropping down into ploughed fields with no gateways. They were always aware of the position of the road because they could see the tall trees of Home Farm and hear the dogs still barking - also the very occasional vehicle went past (there were few privately owned vehicles in 1941). Eventually they found a gap in the hedge and found themselves on marshy ground where they could hear a stream, but could not see it for the alder trees growing along the bank. Importantly, as we shall see later, they insist they did not cross it. They headed back through the gap in the hedge and saw a previously unnoticed gate. In the hedge near the gate was a tall white pillar or stone, unusual for these parts where grey granite is the norm. Equally unusual and frightening was the loud squeaking noise that was coming from the pillar at regular short intervals. Remember, these were country girls. As they insist, they were used to animal and bird noises at night, and used to lonely country roads. In their own words,'we were not town girls lost and scared in the countryside'. Taking the plunge, they dashed past the white pillar and threw themselves over the gate into the unknown road.
Four and a half hours had elapsed since they had set out on their three mile (5km) walk from the bus stop to Upper St. Mary.
On their left was a cottage on the opposite side of the road. It had a gate fronting onto the road and a path which led up to the front door, on which they knocked in order to find their way. They were surprised at the rapidity with which the man, in his late forties, answered the door. He was lean in build and dressed as a workman (their impression rather than an observation). He was carrying a dimly lit paraffin hurricane lamp. They were not surprised, as blackout regulations were in force. They were also not surprised at his heavy local accent. He held the lamp down to their legs, observing their torn stockings and bleeding legs and remarking, 'What have you girls been up to, you're in some state'. They were embarrassed by this and asked for directions. He asked where they had come from. They said St. Mary Road. He said, incorrectly 'Why, that's two miles (3km) the other side of Cardford [pseudonym]'. They found this strange. However, he then correctly directed them to continue along the road where they would find 'a crossroads, (now a roundabout) turn right and you're in Upper St. Mary'. When they got near the crossroads they recognised where they were. At a later date they also realised that to have reached that road, which continues eastwards, they would have to have crossed the stream in the fields. And they had not done so, despite emerging a linear mile (1.5km) from where they originally left the road. They also pondered over the fact that the feeling of evil or foreboding had vanished the instant they fell over the gate and saw the cottage.
Marriage and the war dictated events and moves which split them for a while and put the incident into the background. It was not until fairly recently that they discovered the cottage was no longer in evidence. They assumed it had been destroyed in the war, due to its proximity to Broadfield [pseudonym] military airfield and Castle Moor [pseudonym] airstrip.
Both independently visited the spot and found no evidence of a cottage ever having been there. Consequently both women, now in their sprightly seventies, decided to investigate the matter further and checked maps, including one dated 1879, at a local library. There is no building shown at that spot or even existing on that side of the road, as I have ascertained for myself. They did find the exit gate which has been altered to face the road squarely instead of at an angle. Unsurprisingly, they do not intend to explore the fields.
In conclusion, I found both women to be intelligent and forthright, and they assured me they would still be riding their bicycles if it were not for modern traffic. They constantly asked me for an explanation of the house mystery - the fields episode they laughingly put down to being 'pixilated', as their grandmothers would have said. I pursued the question of crossing the stream. Could they, during the missing four and a half hours, have crossed beyond the stream approximately one and a half miles (2.5km) away to where it sourced out on the Holland Moor [pseudonym] marsh? No, they assured me, at all times the road position was visible and the dogs were barking - they just could not reach it. They agreed the moon was not usual, it was 'enormous' and they found it unusually dazzling. They were unable to remember the phase of the moon previous to, or following, the incident which is unfortunate. Information regarding phase identification may have shed more light on the matter. Further, they did not see the moon rise, it was 'just there'.
They know nothing of the UFO scene but have since read about Versailles and other time slips. I was able to quote them similar cases of 'ghost' houses appearing where none have been in evidence, which they found of great interest. All they keep saying is 'that front door was solid, wooden and real and we really banged on it'. They are also convinced that the house exists somewhere in the area and are always looking for it during their travels. Further, they are sure that the man and the cottage which vanished in the best Brigadoon fashion were a manifestation sent to help them in their darkest hours, 'a guardian angel', as one relative remarked. They did finally arrive at the dance where they removed their shredded stockings, noting to their amazement that, although they had climbed hedge after hedge and negotiated waist-high brambles, the rest of their clothes were undamaged. By this time the dance was ending and the taxi they had ordered took them home. To this day they have never to their knowledge experienced any other paranormal event. However, strangely, in their home village, a budgerigar breeder, one Arthur Smith [pseudonym] (now deceased), while gathering groundsel for his birds in a field familiar to him became hopelessly lost and unable to find the gate, until the farmer heard his shouts and called him to the entrance.
Perhaps this form of 'pixilation' is more common than we realise, or perhaps it is a Celtic complaint? There may be room for research in this direction. Aficionados of earth lights, UFOs, electrical field anomalies (radar/airfields), abductions and like theories may find grist for their particular mills in this incident. I visited the area to study the terrain. The stream is quite substantial. There is quite a waterfall where it crosses under the road bridge (see map). They could not have stumbled across it in the dark without realising. This is the most puzzling part of the fields scenario, because whatever they saw the stream had to be crossed at some point.
This sketch map (not to scale) is based on present-day maps of the area. Some of the roads may have changed (though not to any great extent) since the date of the incident.