Time Warp: The Enigma of Kersey Village
Ghost town ? Of course not. Is a time warp possible?
The Enigma of Kersey Village
In the autumn of 1957 three fifteen year old Royal Navy cadets were directed to go on a map-reading navigation exercise. Their job was to traverse nearly five miles of County Sussex’s English countryside. They were to get from point A to point B. On their return the lads were to tell the petty officer in charge of them what they had seen. What they did see affected two of them to the core. Sixty-five years later, Billy Laing and Mick Crowley, still can’t get over the experience. The third, Ray Baker, could not recall anything unusual happening. That might have come from his being a city boy from London who was seeing his first country village for the first time.
The Church. The tower was not completed in in 1472
Not far off they could hear a church bell chiming
The three boys set off on that early October morning, moving quietly across the autumn countryside. Many of the trees were either losing their leaves or stood covered in gold and red attire. A light breeze blew in from the east. It was cold, but not as cold as the barn they’re sheltered in on the previous night. Sheltered from the breeze, the early morning frost still lay here and there on the lower ground. Not far off they could hear a church bell chiming. It was distinct and clear.
Then Billy Laing, who was leading the group, saw a huge hare crouching in the grass. He just walked up quietly and grabbed it. He couldn’t believe it. No fear. It didn’t run. Billy let it go. How unusual.
Their surroundings took on a ephemeral look
The boys breached the brow of a hill and began to descend. It was at that time that Billy - a personal friend I’ve known for over forty-five years – began to have a very strange feeling. The surroundings began to take on a strange look. The trees seemed to be etched against the sky. They crossed the high point descending towards a fence. Then, as they clambered over it they found their selves looking at a suddenly different world. They were in the same place, but now all the trees were bright with their spring foliage. Oak trees, previously almost bare were suddenly filled with bright green leaves. Were they the same trees? The colour was almost dazzling. The grass was green and bright. It had suddenly gone from autumn to spring. Moreover the wind had dropped away to nothing- dead calm.
Something else was strange. Uncanny, in fact. The bird song among the trees had stopped. There were no sounds at all. No church bell now. There was an uncanny silence.
Black Death - the Bubonic Plague, devasted the populace
The arm pointed. "Hold in that direction."
The trio were not following any track so it came as a surprise when they saw what appeared to be a ramshackle wooden cottage up ahead in a small clearing. There appeared to be no roads leading to it. Around it were tall trees. Standing in front of the cottage were three of the strangest looking people Billy and his mates had ever seen: a man, woman and child. They were small, rather grotesque, almost mongoloid in appearance and clad in clothes which were not of our time.
Billy called out, “Keysey – which way?”
An arm waved and pointed - “Hold in that direction.” An unusual way to answer but it served the purpose.
Things were more than just 'old fashioned'...
Now things became even more strange. There before them was the little village of Kersey. They knew it from the shallow stream which ran fair across one end of the main street. Their map showed this. Its name was the Splash. The Splash still flows across that street today. But something wasn’t right. The little hamlet didn’t seem real. There was no bitumen or concrete roadways. No gutters or kerbing. The roadway was just compressed dirt. It could have been a well-worn bush track. There were no television aerials on rooftops, as was commonplace in the 1950s. There were no power or telegraph poles. No street lighting. But what was most unusual were the cottages. They didn’t seem like modern dwellings at all. They were small, ragged, unprofessionally-built, ram shackle, with wooden frames and the windows in each were tiny; tiny squares of greenish glass in each. They looked more than old-fashioned. They were downright medieval.
The stream still runs over the main street
Absolute quiet. Not a soul in sight. No sign of habitation
Absolutely quiet. Not a soul in sight. No cars or bicycles parked anywhere. And still that silence. They boys crossed to the nearest abode. It turned out to be a shop of sorts. It had a heavy green painted wooden door and a tiny window at the front and another at the side. They pressed their noses up against the dirty, cob-webby glass, focusing their gaze on what lay within.
Then, with a shock, they noticed that there were four skinned beef carcasses hanging from hooks from the ceiling. The floor was sawdust. This had to be a butchers shop. Yet it was the meat itself which seemed so unusual. It was dark red and covered here and there in a green fungus, or so it seemed. Billy’s immediate reaction was “Surely they can’t keep meat that way. It’s gone bad. It should be refrigerated.” But there was no sign even of a counter or bench within, let alone a cool room.
“I don’t like it.”
“No, it’s not right.”
The absolute silence was uncanny
The three moved up the road a bit to look into a second building. This one was a dwelling of some sort but when they looked in there appeared to be no furniture, the floor being covered with straw, the walls crudely whitewashed. Once again they wondered at the silence. What had happened to the bird sounds? The church bell? Where were all the people? What’s more, in this cold weather, not a single smoking chimney from any of these tiny houses.
Can you imagine this street after heavy rain...
The sounds of normalcy returned as they moved away...
Returning to the middle of what was obviously the main street, although it wasn’t paved in any way, they made their way through a fence and began to climb a hill as they left Kersey behind. It was only then that things began to change once more. They could suddenly hear the chimes of the church bell, the chirp of the birds, and from a dozen chimneys the smoke of burning fires. Things had returned to normalcy. It was Autumn again.
Did the boys really step back 465 years?
So what had happened? What had wrought the sudden change and then the change back? The late Professor Pincott of Cambridge University, and Professor Andrew MacKenzie of the Psychic Research Society and other researchers were very interested in this matter. The skeptics debunked it, of course. Be that as it may, it appears the boys had stepped from an October day in 1957 to a Spring day in 1492 – a time at which Bubonic Plague had ravaged that small town, hence its desertion, or the people hiding away - and returned from same to modern times.
In 1990, Billy Laing went back to England and with Andrew MacKenzie revisited the little town. Bill says it was not the same as he saw it in 1957. He showed MacKenzie where one of the houses had once stood. On questioning one of the oldest inhabitants, a woman who’d lived there for eighty years, they were told, “Yes, there had been a cottage on that spot. But it had burned to the ground more than a hundred years earlier. That is, it was destroyed in or around 1890 – over sixty years before 1957! Just what went on here?...
I’ve known and trusted my mate, Billy Laing, for well over forty years. He didn’t make this up. It happened to him. And it happened to his good friend Mick Crowley. The third of the party, a city boy from London, cannot recall experiencing this event. So was it something real, or unreal. And what is real? Where does the truth begin…
I hope you enjoyed reading, Time Warp: The Enigma of Kersey Village
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Tom Ware is a Master Storyteller. Known as 'The Prince of Storytellers, Tom has been entertaining audiences with stories for thirty years. Tom joined his first Toastmaster Club in 1972. He's also been a member of Rostrum Clubs of NSW, the National Sp
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