Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
By: Daniel Cumerlato
famous picture of the Brown Lady shows her standing midway down
on the main staircase of Raynham Hall. Her presence is well known
as she is seen throughout the house walking the hallways searching
for her five children and disturbing all who enter. Separated
from her loved ones in life she continues seeking what has been
taken from her. She is Dorothy Walpole, also known as The Brown
Lady and a tortured soul.
Wolpole, sister of Robert Walpole, Prime Minister of England in
1722, was in love with Charles Townshend. She would have given
her soul to be with Lord Townshend but her father forbid it. The
Lord married another, and Dorothy fell into a depression and an
affair with a broke Lord Wharton.
1711 luck smiled down on Lady Walpole but frowned on Lord Townshend's
first wife, Elizabeth Pelham (daughter of Thomas Pelham of Pelham
Manor) died of unknown circumstances. Two years after her passing,
Dorothy and Lord Townshend were married.
soon into the marriage, Lord Townshend learned that his new bride's
connection with Lord Wharton had not ended with their vows. Upon
discovering this affair, he proceeded to lock Dorothy in her bedroom.
She was exiled from her family, from her children and from the
world. A trapped princess screaming out from her cell in the tower,
kept as a prisoner until her death in 1726, officially recorded
as caused by a case of smallpox. The Lady was 40 years old.
is still at home
forward to the early nineteenth century, the Townshend family
still calling Raynham Hall their home. King George the IV reported
seeing the apparition of a woman dressed in a brown satin dress.
To the King the woman's face appeared to be pale, possibly from
a sickness as she stared down at him in bed.
1835, Colonel Loftus was witness to this same apparition in brown.
He quickly saw her appear and disappear when walking to his room
late one night. About a week later he returned to the mansion
and was witness to a more disturbing sight. The Brown Lady stood
before him in the same hallway, facing the Colonel but unable
to stare because her eyes were missing.
too long after the Colonel's visit, author Captain Frederick Marryat
was invited to stay at Raynham Hall. After hearing all the rumors
of the Brown Lady he thought it would be exciting to stay in the
room where Lady Walpole live and died. The room displays a painting
of Dorothy Walpole and is supposed to entertain the most visits
from her ghost. With his complete focus on witnessing her spirit,
the Captain studied the painting and waited for her to appear.
His wait would be long but rewarding, as she decided to meet him
in the hallway a few days later.
Captain was strolling the hallway one night with two of his friends.
Appearing in front of them carrying a lantern, the Brown Lady
strolled right past with a sinister smile upon her lips. The Captain
spun and pulled a pistol from his vest firing at her back. The
bullet went through her and hit the wall. When he raised his head
the Lady was gone.
legend is captured
1936, The Brown Lady was entered into the history of the world.
Two photographers, Captain Provand and Indre Shira were assigned
by Country Life magazine to profile Raynham Hall.
are the events of the famous photograph from Indre Shira:
"Captain Provand took one photograph while I flashed the
light. He was focusing for another exposure; I was standing by
his side just behind the camera with the flashlight pistol in
my hand, looking directly up the staircase. All at once I detected
an ethereal veiled form coming slowly down the stairs. Rather
excitedly, I called out sharply: 'Quick, quick, there's something.'
I pressed the trigger of the flashlight pistol. After the flash
and on closing the shutter, Captain Provand removed the focusing
cloth from his head and turning to me said: 'What's all the excitement
about?' When they developed the picture they found that they had
captured the image of a ghostly woman, apparently the famous brown
lady, drifting down the stairs."
This photo was later published in Country Life Magazine.
photograph is well respected among the ghost-enthusiast community,
however it has its share of skeptics. Photo analyst Joe Nickell
was the first to label the photo a fake. He examined it and came
to the conclusion that it was a double-exposure or two images
put together to form the illusion of a spirit.
this day Raynham Hall still stands in Norfolk, England and has
had many reports of the Brown Lady who continues to roam within
its walls. Other reported spirits include The Duke of Monmouth,
two ghostly children and a ghost of a cocker spaniel. Whether
or not the photograph is real doesn't shadow the fact that this
old house has a history of pain and suffering, all the elements
that make a tortured soul and a good ghost story.
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