The Brown Lady is famous mostly as being one of the most reliably photographed ghost in history. Although she has not been seen since 1936, she is said to wear a long brown dress or cape. No one knows who the Brown Lady is, or how she is connected to Raynham Hall.
The first sighting was reported in 1835 by a house guest, Colonel Loftus. He actually viewed her twice. He said she was wearing a brown satin dress and had only black empty sockets for eyes. Another sighting was made by Captain Frederick Marryat. He intentionally slept in the “haunted room,” but instead caught a glimpse of the Brown Lady an upstairs hallway.
His description was the same as Loftus’, except this time the Brown Lady was carrying a lantern. Marryat happened to have a gun with him, and fired point-blank at the figure. The bullets, of course, passed right through the ghost. The ghost was not reported again until 1926, at which time it was viewed by two little boys. In 1936, the famous photograph was taken by photographers Captain Provand and Indre Shira during a shoot for the magazine Country Life. Shira saw the ghost on the stairs, an instructed Provand to take a picture.
According to Shira, this is what happened:
“Captain Provand took one photograph while I flashed the light. He was focusing for another exposure; I was standing by his side just behind the camera with the flashlight pistol in my hand, looking directly up the staircase. All at once I detected an ethereal veiled form coming slowly down the stairs. Rather excitedly, I called out sharply: ‘Quick, quick, there’s something.’ I pressed the trigger of the flashlight pistol. After the flash and on closing the shutter, Captain Provand removed the focusing cloth from his head and turning to me said: ‘What’s all the excitement about?'”
When they developed the picture they found that they had captured the image of a ghostly woman, apparently the famous brown lady, drifting down the stairs. The picture was published in Country Life on December 16, 1936.
Skeptics, however, argue that the picture is a fake. The photo analyst Joe Nickell examined the photograph and concluded that it was nothing more than two images composited together.
According to legend, the Brown Lady of Raynham is the ghost of Lady Townshend who once lived at Raynham Hall and “officially” died of smallpox in 1726. She was the sister of Sir Robert Walpole who was considered to be Englands first Prime-minister.