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Time Warp: The Enigma of Kersey Village

Updated on September 27, 2012

Ghost town ? Of course not. Is a time warp possible?

What is real?  Or was it a Ghost Town; the town it had been in 1472?
What is real? Or was it a Ghost Town; the town it had been in 1472?

Time warp

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

The Church was only partly built in 1472 the tower still to be erected.  The church would have been hidden behind the trees.  The boys saw no church.
The Church was only partly built in 1472 the tower still to be erected. The church would have been hidden behind the trees. The boys saw no church.

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 Inn Probably looks a lot better now than it would have in 1492 - the year the Black Death or Bubonic Plague wracked this country village.
The Inn Probably looks a lot better now than it would have in 1492 - the year the Black Death or Bubonic Plague wracked this country village.

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

A most unusual sight: a stream runs over the town's main thoroughfare.
A most unusual sight: a stream runs over the town's main thoroughfare.

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 locals like it this way.  It's a tourist drawcard today.
The locals like it this way. It's a tourist drawcard today.

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


Submit a Comment

  • Tusitala Tom profile imageAUTHOR

    Tom Ware 

    6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    Thanks, moneyfairy. Something unusual definitely happened. The story was told to me 'first hand' by Bill Laing himself, a man I've known for decades. The fact that researchers from both Cambridge and Edinburg Universities in the UK thought it serious enough to look at gives it at least some credibility.

  • moneyfairy profile image

    Money Fairy 

    6 years ago from New Woodstock

    I beleive it really happened to them, what an intersting story. I too have had some unexplainable things happen to me in my lifetime some of which actually saved my life. I have never taken any drugs in my life other than penecilian when I was sick. Science simply can't expalin everything, if it could we would all live in a utopian society. Thanks for sharing this Tom.

  • teresapelka profile image

    Teresa Pelka 

    6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

    I think it possibly happened in their minds only; I'll remain my skeptic. :)

  • Tusitala Tom profile imageAUTHOR

    Tom Ware 

    6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    All I'm going on about here is what has been relayed to me first hand by a trusted friend. Obviously something very unusual happened. There were no drugs involved. These were young lads on a Navy exercise and under the supervision of the very servere discipline on the 1950s Navy. No nonsense here. Something so unsual happened (perhaps only in the minds of the two boys who remembered same) to stay with them for life.

    In my own life I, too, have had some remarkable and inexplicable (from the strict scientific viewpoint) events happen, so I'm much more amenable to listening to explanations that don't fall tidily within the parameters of the 'acceptable square.'

  • teresapelka profile image

    Teresa Pelka 

    6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

    Muscarine has been known as long as glass, at least. Glass was very epensive in the Middle Ages, as for the belief.

  • teresapelka profile image

    Teresa Pelka 

    6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

    @Tusitala Tom

    I don't mean to scoff, but the ephemeral nature of physical matter can be challenged on the notion of mesons - the matter can be really hard.

    LSD (just looked it up) is reported to have been available in England in the 1950s. I have made the reservation I do not want to incriminate anyone, but this is a book example of a 'bad trip'.

    One of the boys remains reported to have lost his memory - a classic impure LSD.

    You probably realize there is no way to improve the British real estate market trying to tell anyone they get actually two houses in the place of one - all you see is one house, one place, one time.

    I am critical, I know; not without a reason.

  • Tusitala Tom profile imageAUTHOR

    Tom Ware 

    6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    But, teresapelka, the world is ephemeral in its strictest sense. Material is made up of molecules, molecules are made up of atoms, atoms are made up of sub-atmomic particles which, depending upon how they are viewed, are either 'particles' surrounded mostly by space, or are wavelets or radiating frequencies.

    How can you have one thing within another? Swing the dial on your radio. All those stations are radiating energy, most of which is passing through your physical body right now. Shine a torch against the end of your finger and see if the light does not come through.

    Oh, and these boys weren't on drugs. This was 1957 when the most a teenager could get hold of in Britain would be cigarettes or a beer or so.

  • teresapelka profile image

    Teresa Pelka 

    6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

    I completely do not believe in time warps. This world is material, not ephemeral.

    One location, there can be only one material makeup - your Medieval Kersey would have nowhere to stand, unless you prove you can build two houses the exact place for one in the same time span (why have one car or television set only, should two possibly fit in the same space?) ;)

    I do not mean to incriminate anyone and want to make the reservation that my knowledge comes only from print, therefore might be not representative of human experience. However, the accounts would be suggestive of a 'bad trip', a drug experience.

    First, as boys, the men see vivid colors and something that might be suggestive of Alice in Wonderland (definitely a mad hare ;)

    Then, they see degenerate people and rotten meat.

    The boys might have tried some drugs - one of them claims he doesn't remember anything; would this mean he disjoined the others or lost consciousness? Then, having told their story, the boys felt they had to stay by it.

    Well, the contemporary Kersey did not vanish for any time they were round.

    And well, excuse me, it just shows right away they were not scouts - they missed out on the real village badly (!) ;)


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