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home > ghosts of the world > the brown lady of raynham hall

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The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
Norfolk, England

Article By: Daniel Cumerlato

The Brown LadyThe 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.

 

 

The History
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Dorothy 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.

In 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.

Very 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.

Dorothy is still at home
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Fast 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.

Grand RoomIn 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.

Not 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.

Picture of Lady WalpoleThe 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.



A legend is captured
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In 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.

Here 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.


The Skeptic
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The 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.

 

The legend continues...
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Raynham Hall

To 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.

Article By: Daniel Cumerlato
Founding Partner of Haunted Hamilton

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