Monday, November 12, 2012

Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
Paranormal Photos 6: The Worlds Most Famous Unexplained Photos

September 19, 1936 a photographer, Captain Hubert C Provand and his assistant, Indre Shira were taking pictures of Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England for the December issue of 'Country Life' Magazine.

Little did they know that on this day they would capture the ghost that has said to be haunting the old country house since the mid 1800's.

The ghost is better known as the 'Brown Lady' as the spectre has been described as wearing a brown silk brocade dress.

It is believed that the Brown Lady is the spirit of Lady Dorothy Walpole who died at Raynham Hall in 1726 from Smallpox after a long incarceration within the houses walls.

Dorothy Walpole was the sister of Sir Robert Walpole who was considered to be the first Prime Minister of Great Britain (served 1721 to 1742 also making him the longest serving Prime Minister). Dorothy was married (as the second wife) to Charles Townsend who had served as the secretary of state for ten years.

Dorothy had apparently had a affair with the 1st Duke of Wharton, Philip Wharton (yes all these upper class families make for quite complex reading and research) and her husband Sir Walpole did not take too kindly to that and had Dorothy locked in the upper floor rooms of their home - Raynham Hall.

Another story states that Dorothy was entrapped by the Countess of Wharton, never to leave the house... not even to see her children. It is said she returns to find and finally be reunited with her children. A sad tale indeed!

Either way Lady Dorothy Walpole died of Smallpox 29th March 1726 aged forty.

The Brown Lady aka (possibly) Lady Dorothy Walpole has been seen on a number of occasions since her death with the first recorded sighting being in 1835 after a Christmas party. Several guests had seen the ghost as they went up to their bedrooms for the evening, one describing it as having a glowing face but with empty eye sockets.

Captain Marryat (a gentleman who wrote novels set out at sea) retired to his room one night and had remarked to two others he met on the way that he was carrying a gun as protection against the Brown Lady. It was at this point the apparition appeared and 'diabolically' grinned at the captain as she passed by him.

The captain took two shots, both passing straight through the apparition to embed in the door and door frame beyond.

Many other people have witnessed the Brown Lady on the main staircase and in the bedrooms. Generally these sightings occur when heading to bed or waking up in the middle of the night to find her standing in their rooms.

The ghost has also been seen right before tragic events and deaths that affect the Townsend Family. One evening during a dinner party many quests had seen the apparition complete with her brown dress walking through the crowd. The Spectre did not seem to recognise anyone and soon disappeared. The next morning news of the death of George Walpole reached the group at the estate, George had died at about the same time the Brown Lady has been seen.

On the fateful day the photo was taken Captain Hubert C Provand and his assistant Indre Shira had set up the camera at the foot of the main staircase with Provand under the protective cloth at the back of the camera. They had already taken one photo and Provand was re framing for another shot. Shira suddenly called out to Provand to take another shot and at this Provand removed the lens cover and made the exposure.

Shira had seen the figure of a lady descend the staircase when he called for the photo to be taken. Upon development the image did indeed show a spectral figure on the staircase; The Brown Lady had been captured at last!

The picture was published in Country Life magazine December 16th 1936 along with the accounts of Provand and Shira.

Renowned paranormal investigator Harry Price interviewed the two men and stated he could not flaw them in their story with the negative also showing the figure. With the exception of the two men lying he could not see how the image could be anything but that of the ghost in question.

Ashley Hall 2012. All reference material can be made available on request.
Photo: The Brown Lady by Provand and Shira 1936. Inset: Lady Dorothy Walpole.

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