THE BROWN LADY OF RAYNHAM HALL This incredible photo was published in British magazine Country Life, on 26th December 1936.
Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
Click image for larger view.
The image reportedly shows a ghost descending a staircase at Raynham Hall. It was captured by photographers Captain Provand and his assistant Indre Shira while photographing the historic Raynham Hall for Country Life Magazine in the late afternoon of 19th September, 1936.

This extremely famous ghost photo has been well covered over the years in magazines and more recently done to death on the Internet :0). In fact it is often classified as the "worlds most famous ghost photo", which may be true!.

To this day there has been no reliable evidence to show whether it was a hoax or it was a true ghost picture. Although it is claimed that various "experts" have looked at the negative and declared that it's genuine and untampered with, I can find no evidence of who these experts where (apparently from Country Life Magazine). It is up to you to decide if it you believe it's real or a very long running hoax.

The two photographers mentioned above reported seeing the ghost as a "misty form" descending the staircase. Having already completed one exposure and fully prepared for another they managed to capture this amazing photograph as they watched the ghost themselves. The full report of the ghostly encounter was reported in Country Life Magazine.

Although the photo appears to be a relatively easy double exposure trick, the question is still asked today. Why would two well known photographers, with an extremely good reputation want to fake a ghost photo? Their reputation alone make it highly improbable that they would do such a thing. But maybe they did, only they know the truth on this matter.
The other unusual thing is that the ghost was seen before the photo was taken, most paranormal photos aren't discovered till after the film has been developed, photographers do not usually get the opportunity to see a ghost, photograph it and have such a perfect image of it appear on film.


Dorothy WalpoleThe ghost seen in the photo is reportedly that of Lady Dorothy Walpole (Left) who once lived at Raynham Hall.

Born in 1686 she "officially" died of smallpox in 1726.

She was the sister of Sir Robert Walpole who was considered to be Englands first Prime-minister.

Her father refused consent for her to marry her first love, Second Viscount Townshend, however they were married much later on after the death of Townshend's first wife, but by this stage Dorothy had been deeply embroiled in an affair with a very much in debt Lord Wharton. Quite scandalous in those days!

Upon learning of his new wife's previous misconduct he ordered that she be kept locked in her apartments at Raynham Hall. She died at the age of 40, on 29th March, 1726. Her death was officially reported being of smallpox but many believe she died of either a broken heart or a broken neck after being pushed down the grand staircase.

It is thought that her ghost still walks the staircase looking for her 5 children which she was also parted from by her husband after he learned of her affair.


The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall has been seen quite a few times over the years. She is called the "Brown Lady" due to the brown brocade dress that the ghost has often been seen wearing while wandering the halls and staircase of Raynham Hall.

1849 - Major Loftus and a friend named Hawkins saw the ghost one night after retiring to bed. They both saw the woman and were amazed by the old fashioned clothing that she wore. The following night the Major was lucky enough to see the figure once again, this time he took note of her empty eye-sockets. The incident resulted in several members of staff resigning and a full investigation being done of Raynham Hall involving local detectives.

1926 - Lady Townshend encountered the Brown Lady on the staircase. She had never heard the tales of the resident ghost and swore that it resembled the portrait of Dorothy Walpole.

Cptn. MarryatAuthor Captain Marryat had a close encounter with the Brown Lady in 1936. He asked to stay in the room in which the Brown Lady was said to appear. After talking to two young guests that night and joking about a gun they were carrying protecting them from the Brown Lady, while walking back to their rooms along a corridor. They suddenly came face to face with a ghostly female figure advancing towards them, carrying a lamp. Captain Marryat recognised the woman as the woman in the portrait hung in his room. The three men noted that the woman was wearing a brown brocade dress. She passed by the three men and looks straight at them "in such a diabolical manner" that they became extremely frightened. Captain Marryat then pulled the trigger of the gun firing at the brown lady. The Bullet went straight through the ghostly figure and was later found in a door behind where she had been seen.

George IV also had a ghostly encounter with the Brown Lady, it is said that it frightened him out of his wits when he woke in the middle of the night to see the ghost standing at the foot of his bed. He immediately left with the comments "I will not spend another hour in this accursed house, for tonight I have seen that which I hope to God I never see again".

The Duke of Monmouth, two ghostly children and a ghost of a cocker spaniel are also reported to haunt Raynham Hall.

Raynham Hall

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Raynham Hall is a country house in Norfolk, England. For 300 years it has been the seat of the Townshend family. The hall gave its name to the area, known as The Raynhams, and is reported to be haunted, providing the scene for possibly the most famous ghost photo of all time, the famous Brown Lady descending the staircase. However, the ghost has been seen infrequently since the photo was taken. Its most famous resident was Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend (1674-1738), leader in the House of Lords.

Raynham Hall



[edit] Style

Raynham Hall is one of the most splendid of the great houses of Norfolk. It was begun by Sir Roger Townshend and was the first of its kind in England. Perhaps because of the three-year grand tour of Europe which Sir Roger had undertaken, Raynham was built in an entirely new style, abandoning native tradition and following the Italian form and plan. Raynham could easily be mistaken for a house built nearly a century later.

[edit] Legend

In 1713, Lord Townshend married Walpole's prettiest sister, Dorothy. She was his second wife, and is reputed in the gossip of the time to have been previously the mistress of Lord Wharton, "whose character was so infamous, and his lady's complaisant subserviency so notorious, that no young woman could be four and twenty hours under their roof with safety to her reputation."

Lady Townshend was buried in 1726. But there is a tradition that she did not die in that year and that the funeral was a mock interment.

Instead, she is rumoured to have been locked up in the house by her husband. This is why the ghost of "Dolly" Townshend, the "little brown lady of Raynham," is said still to haunt the oak staircase of the house in the twilight.

[edit] Additions

The Hall at Raynham was begun in 1619 with indications that it may have been designed by Inigo Jones.[citation needed] Later extensions and interiors were designed by William Kent, the one-time coach-painter who turned his talents to designing houses and furniture. To add the North wing to Raynham and decorate the interior, the 2nd Viscount Townshend called in William Kent, later to be one of the architects of nearby Holkham. Much of Kent's finest work can be seen at Raynham, especially in the elaborately carved chimney-pieces, the mosaic paintings and decorated doorways. The impressive and beautiful ceiling of' the Marble Hall with its motif of Lord Townshend's coat of arms (see picture on right) is famous.

[edit] Paintings

Many fine portraits still adorn Kent's splendid rooms at Raynham. Hanging beside his lovely black and white marble chimney-piece in the Princess' Room is a painting which is believed to be a preliminary sketch for the famous Van Dyck portrait "Children of Charles I." Until 1904, there were many more paintings at Raynham, including several fine family portraits by Kneller and Reynolds. The most famous and valuable was "Belisarius " by Salvator Rosa, which was presented to the 2nd Viscount Townshend by Frederick William, King of Prussia. This was valued at 5,000 pounds in 1804, but was disposed of a hundred years later for 273 pounds.

George Townshend, 7th Marquess Townshend, is the present owner of the Hall. He succeeded to the title when he was only five.

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Concerning the Haunted Status -

Maynard,C;1977;"The World Of the Unknown- All about Ghosts";Usborne Mentions a 1938 photograph (alleged to be of a Ghost) taken at Rayneham Hall?

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