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Paranormal Ponderings: FTN looks at the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

December 14th, 2012 by Owen Quinn 1 Comment

The Doctor claims there is no such thing, the cowardly lion in Wizard of Oz believed in them and Ghostbusters made a business out of hunting them, yet the existence of ghosts remains an open forum. Those, like myself, that have encountered them, firmly believe that there is life after death and no one will convince me otherwise. We live in a world now that is more open to their existence. People fake ghost videos left, right and centre for a quick buck, leaving the real videos lost in a flurry of skeptics that cast ridicule on ghosts.

That is now, but back in the 1800s there was no market for ghost photos or a need to make things up. And in 1936 came a photo that stand to this day as proof that ghosts exist. No one has been able to dispute it or claim technology faked it. It was taken by primitive cameras that simply could not be dismissed as double exposures. And so the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall stands today as proof indisputable that something is out there.

First reported at Christmas in 1835 by one Lucia C Stone, it was reportedly the ghost of lady Dorothy Walpole who lived from 1686- 1726. She was married to Charles Townsend (his second wife) who reportedly had a bad temper. Dorothy was also famous as the sister of Robert Walpole, hailed as the first Prime Minister of Great Britain. Allegedly she committed adultery and was locked in the rooms of her home as punishment. She remained at the Hall until her death from smallpox. She never saw her children again. Ghost sightings are reported to be linked to strong emotional links to their life and it could be that the Brown Lady is trapped there by her broken heart.

When she was first seen it was at a Christmas gathering which included Lucia and a Colonel Loftus and a man called Hawkins. Both these men said they saw her as they were retiring for the night. The Colonel said he also saw her the following night, mesmerized by her dark eye sockets which stood out in her glowing face. Both men described her dress to the detail which earned the Brown Lady name. The following year a Captain Frederick Marryat requested to stay at the house in order to prove that the haunting was a story spun by local smugglers to keep people away. Also staying there were two men who invited him to look at newly purchased guns. They stayed together for a while and the hour was late before they retired. Marryat had his revolver with him on the advice of the young men in case he met the ghost. As they stood in the corridor they saw the glow of a lantern coming down the hall.Thinking it was a lady guest they waited until she approached. To Marryat’s surprise he recognized the dress as that of the brown lady. He challenged her and she thrust the lantern in his face and leered demonically at him. Terrified he shot her in the face where upon she simply vanished. Such was his experience he never returned and his daughter recounted his tale. For him there was now no question of the Brown Lady’s existence.

The legend spread and in 1926 Country Life magazine sent photographers to take pictures of the house for an upcoming issue. They had already taken a photo of the grand staircase when they noticed a vapour-like entity moving down the stairs towards them. That was when they took the photo that has gone down in history as definitive proof (below). When their account was published along with the photo, the negatives and camera equipment were examined and shown that there had been no tampering or faulty negative. Some Skeptics have said it is a smudge on the lens but no collusion was found by the team investigating where the photographers were concerned. You can see the shape on the stairs is transparent and does have a human countenance. And no one has been able to say otherwise.

Once again Owen takes a look at the strange and unusual… this week one of the most famous ghost pictures of all time.

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Husband, dad and Ireland's hardest working author, Owen Quinn is currently knee deep in The Time Warriors, arguably the biggest sci-fi epic ever to come out of Ireland. He has an unhealthy interest in Doctor Who, classic TV and Star Wars, he also hangs around with the Emerald Garrison far toooo much. Is it any wonder he fits in at FTN so well? Find Owen at the

  • Rita Scott

    Loved this!!

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