10th August 1901 - Miss Moberly meets Marie Antoinette


On 10 Aug 1901, Annie Moberly, daughter of George Moberly the Bishop of Salisbury, saw Marie Antoinette in the gardens at Versailles.

The reason this is notable is that Marie Antoinette had been dead for just over 100 years[1].

Annie Moberly saw Marie Antoinette in the company of a friend and co-worker Eleanor Jourdain. Jourdain and Moberly saw several people that day who seemed to be dressed in an old-fashioned way, and they were spoken to by some of them.

At the time neither woman mentioned the odd-ness of the incident, but afterwards, and on further research into the people and the layout of the garden, they came to the conclusion that they had somehow seen a vision of Versailles at the time of the French Revolution.

The story had an impact.

Their account of the incident, ‘An Adventure’ was published in at least six editions in English alone[2]. The 1959 French translation ‘Les Fantomes de Trianon’ had an introduction by Jean Cocteau. An MP’s wife Lucille Iremonger wrote a whole book of refutation[3].

A TV movie starring Hannah Gordon was made in 1981.

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Pic: Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


[1] Marie Antoinette was executed during the French Revolution. She was guillotined in the Place de la Concorde on 16 Oct 1793

[2] The last edition was in 1988

[3] Iremonger’s book ‘The Ghosts of Versailles’ is available in Salisbury Reference Library, if you’re interested