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The World's Most Famous Ghost Photo
Posted In: Ghost And Demons  2/23/08
By: J. Mark Soveign


The Brown Lady Of Raynham Hall

According to legend, the Brown Lady is the ghost of Lady Townshend who was married to Charles Townshend, a man known for his fiery temper.  When Charles learned of his wife's infidelity, he punished her by imprisoning her in the family estate at Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England.  He never allowed her to leave its premises.  She remained there until her death.

For two centuries now Lady Townshend's ghost was from time-to-time seen wandering through Raynham Hall.  In 1835, one Colonel Loftus was witness to the Brown Lady.  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 again in the very same hallway, facing the Colonel but unable to look because her eyes were missing!

After hearing all the rumors of the Brown Lady Author Captain Marryat thought it would be exciting to stay in the house and indeed in the same room where Lady Townsend lived and died.  The room displayed a painting of her and is supposed to be the most visited by her.  After talking to two young guests one night and joking about a gun he was carrying to protect him from the Brown Lady, little did he know that he would need it.

While walking back to the room along a corridor.  He suddenly came face-to-face with a ghostly female figure dressed in a brown brocade dress advancing towards him and carrying a lamp.  Captain Marryat recognised the woman as the woman in the portrait in the room.  She passed by but paused to look straight at him "in such a diabolical manner".  Captain Marryat then pulled the trigger of the gun he had firing at the brown lady. The Bullet went straight through the ghostly figure and was later found lodged in a door behind where she had been seen.

This is one of the most famous ghost photos in existence.  Taken in 1936, it shows the "Brown Lady" ghost.  As the story goes, two photographers from Country Life magazine were capturing the old Hall when one of the men came upon the ghost.  A photograph was quickly taken seconds before the figure disappeared. When developed, it showed a faint figure gliding down the staircase.  The picture was published in Country Life on December 16, 1936.


To this day Raynham Hall still stands in Norfolk, England and has had many reports of the Brown Lady and other ghosts who continue to haunt the venerable old house.  These spirits include The Duke of Monmouth, two ghostly children and a ghost of a cocker spaniel.  The house has all the elements that make a good ghost story, and more than that, it was the scene for the most famous ghost photograph of all time.


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