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...  "The Brown Lady" of Raynham Hall       This photo was taken in 1936 at Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England, by two photographers of Country Life magazine. Raynham Hall was long reputed to be haunted by the ghost of Lady Dorothy Townshend, who died in 1726. The ghost had been seen on many occasions throughout the years when it was spotted descending these stairs by the Country Life photographers, who quickly took a snapshot. This is considered by many to be the most highly regarded and reputable photograph by a ghost yet made.
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A classic: The brown lady Ghost Photo
09/20/07 at 05:41:20

The Brown Lady is believed to be Dorothy Walpole, the sister of Britain's first ever Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole of Houghton Hall.

It is known that Dorothy's father was made guardian of Charles Townshend, when he was only 13 years old, so having grown up in each others company, when Dorothy was 15 and Charles 27 he fell deeply in love with her and wanted to marry her. Apparently Dorothy's father refused to give his blessing and put a stop to the whole affair, as he feared he would be accused of wanting to gain the Townshend fortune and property.

There are claims that at that young age Dorothy had thrown herself into a life of wild parties and scandalous behaviour , and ultimately became the mistress of the well known, infamously notorious Lord Wharton. Marriage was not an option.

During this time, Charles Townshend had married, but his wife sadly passed away in 1713, after which he and Dorothy were reunited and they married. However, it is rumored that Dorothy did not give up her lover.

It is understood that during her life, Dorothy was a well liked, charming lady. Although it is also believed that it was her obsession with flamboyant attire, that initially caused incredible arguments between herself and her husband, the second Marquess Townshend. Charles had a horrid temper, this was not a secret. In the end it was an untimely discovery of the continuing affair that led Charles to punish Dorothy and deprive her of the care of her  5 children, who were thereafter sent away and cared for by his mother. Miserable without them, it is said that Charles also confined Dorothy to her own quarters, where she desolately wandered the rooms, and within a while she died, at the age of 40.

Various versions of her life and death are quoted, including starvation, falling (or being pushed) down the grand staircase at Raynham Hall, the most popular location for the sighting of her ghost. Although this may be so, the announcement of her death, on 29th March 1726, gives the cause as smallpox.

There have been a huge number of sightings since her death in 1726. It was only a few weeks later that her ghost was first seen by servants working at the hall. By the way the servants gave notice and left! The apparition is was often described as wearing a 'richly brocaded brown dress with a coif on her head'

This picture was taken 210 years later in 1936 by two photographers from Country Life magazine when they were taking a series of photographs of Raynham Hall.

The story is that Captain Provand was photographing the staircase when his assistant, Indra Shira, said that he suddenly noticed a misty figure approaching down the stairs. He quickly urged Captain Provand to take an exposure, which he did although He protested that Indra Shira must have imagined it, and declared that even if there was something there, nothing would appear when the negative was developed. It is said that a bet was made.

Indra Shira insisted he had seen a figure so transparent that the steps were visible through it, and later when they were developing the negatives the Captain could see that there was definitely something on the staircase. Later a number of experts examined it and were satisfied that the picture had not been faked in any way.

Just imagine the excitement! The thrill of this photograph is still continuing today.

Raynham Hall is certainly haunted, and although this photgraph has recieved much credo for being authentic, there are skeptics... who would say it is not. Only you can decide if you think this photograph is a fake or not..............

I put the three versions of this famous photographs, with special consideration given to the middle photo. For some reason most of the other Brown Lady pictures I found were cropped. HALF of the left hand banister is missing ... and the right is broken and misaligned. What's up with that? Hmmmmm. Is this a double exposure? A mistake? Or a deliberate Hoax? Pulling this off would have been easy, even back then.

Pity that hoaxes happen, but they did 70 years ago and likely moreso now. I liked this photo, believed it was authentic, but then I did some research and ... now I don't know what to think. These men were professional photograhers. If this was a deliberate hoax, both men were in on it. Oh What a great scoop, fame even! Makes you wonder now doesn't it?
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« Last Edit: 09/20/07 at 08:56:28 by Evie »  

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Re: A classic: The brown lady Ghost Photo
Reply #1 - 09/20/07 at 15:20:28
Evie I love this!  This should be a regular thing, having a vote on photos.  I really enjoy hearing the story behind the photo as well.  Good job Evie!  

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Re: A classic: The brown lady Ghost Photo
Reply #2 - 09/20/07 at 17:17:06
SmileyThis is brilliant, Evie - what an inspired addition to the site.

It was great to get the history behind the photos also.

You are really good at finding the interesting stuff - please do keep it up.

Blessed Be

Sarah Smiley
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Re: A classic: The brown lady Ghost Photo
Reply #3 - 09/20/07 at 19:57:52
What can i say Evie.....fantastic  Smiley  Smiley Smiley Smiley
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Re: A classic: The brown lady Ghost Photo
Reply #4 - 09/20/07 at 21:00:58
hello there im new on here that pic i seen be4 yes it real ghost  Smiley
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