If you are interested in viewing what is considered to be the most reliable photograph of a ghost, you may want to seek out the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall’s image, which has gained a reputation as being the real deal. The ghost has not been sighted since 1936, but the photograph that remains of her is still an interesting item to analyze. Her name comes from the brown cape or dress that she is said to wear. Her identity is a mystery and why she chose to haunt Raynham Hall is also unknown.
It was a man by the name of Colonel Loftus, who was the first to report her existence during 1835. He described her as wearing a brown satin dress. Loftus spied her twice, stating that she possessed black sockets for eyes. A man by the name of Captain Frederick Marryat claimed to have spotted the Brown Lady as well, only this time she had a lantern in her hand. She was sighted wandering about the upstairs hallway. Nervous at the sight of the ghost, he fired a single shot at the Brown Lady, claiming that the bullets went straight through her.
It wasn’t until 1926 that another report was given regarding the Brown Lady, where she appeared in front of two small boys. The well-known ghost photograph that was taken of the Brown Lady occurred in 1936 by photographers, captain Provand and Indre Shira. They were conducting a photo shoot for Country Life, which was a magazine, when Shira spotted the Brown Lady upon the stairs. She motioned for Provand to take its photograph.
After the photo was developed, it revealed a ghost walking down the Raynham Hall staircase. The validity of this photo has been debated, prompting many to dub it as a fake. It is said that there were a handful of experts who examined the negative and stated that it was not a fake, but there is no record of who evaluated the negative and how much of an expert they really were.
Shira and Provand described the ghost as appearing in a “misty form.” Not only were the photographs of the ghost run in the Country Life Magazine, but the details of their encounter were included as well. Some dismiss the photo as a trick that can be completed by manipulating a double exposure. Some deny that the two reliable photographers would ever have attempted such a hoax. Another odd twist to this story is that it is quite rare for a person to view a ghost and be able to take a photograph of them while they are still watching it. Many ghost photographs are taken without the knowledge of the photographer; some photos reveal unknown images after the film is developed.
A theory of the ghost focuses on the identity of the apparition. It is said that the ghost belongs to Dorothy Wapole, who once resided at Raynham Hall, because her face resembled that of the ghost. Dorothy passed away in 1726 after being locked in a room after her husband heard of an affair she was having. The reports state that she had succumbed to smallpox, but others interpret her death as a result of a broken heart from not being able to marry her first, true love. Others believe she may have been pushed down the main staircase, breaking her neck in the fall, thus appearing on the staircase in search of her children and husband.