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Figure One. A bedroom in Raynham Hall. Conway Library.


Figure Two. Supposed photograph of the ghost ‘the brown lady’. Taken by Captain Hubert C. Provand. First published in Country Life, 1936.

The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England is a rumoured apparition who inhabits the hall; named after the brown gown she dons. Dorothy Walpole married aristocrat Charles Townshend in July of 1713 and from there had ten children. But then in 1726, Dorothy died of smallpox. The rumour mill began to spun tales that Dorothy was not resting in peace, and that instead she had been walled up in a wing of the hall and left to die as punishment for an affair (Mantell and Connor, 2018). In 1835, during a Christmas party at the house, two guests claimed to have seen a ghostly figure in a brown dress drifting through the hallway. The next year Frederick Marryat, a friend of Charles Dickens, requested to stay the night in the supposedly haunted manor. Whilst holding a loaded gun he was startled by an apparent sighting of the ghost, which he shot at (Mantell and Connor, 2018)

In 1936, Captain Hubert C Provand, a photographer working for Country Life magazine and his assistant Indre Shira were photographing the hall for an article, apparently unrelated to the paranormal (Cherell, 2018).  When photographing the staircase, Shira claimed to see a vaporlike mass forming the figure of a woman which prompted Provand to take the famed image of the ‘brown lady’ (Cherrell, 2018) (Figure Two). This image was ‘authenticated’ by Country Life magazine and was published. The image has become one of the most famous in spectral photography. Many theories have arisen as to disprove the image- from accidental double exposure to clever camera manipulation using a figure of Madonna as the brown lady (Cherrell, 2018).

Take a look at the images of the hall in the Conway archives and draw your own conclusions- do you sense something eerie at play or simply fearful imaginations run wild?

Cherrell, K., 2018. The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall. [online] Burials & Beyond. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 September 2021].


Mantell, R. and Connor, S., 2018. Weird Norfolk: The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall. [online] Eastern Daily Press. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 September 2021].

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