The Story of The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

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The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall is a ghost that reportedly haunts Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England. It became one of the most famous hauntings in Great Britain when photographers from Country Life magazine claimed to have captured its image. The “Brown Lady” is so named because of the brown brocade dress it is claimed she wears.

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The Story Of The Brown Lady Of Raynham Hall

According to legend, the “Brown Lady of Raynham Hall” is the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole (1686–1726), the sister of Robert Walpole, generally regarded as the first Prime Minister of Great Britain. She was the second wife of Charles Townshend, who was notorious for his violent temper. The story says that when Townshend discovered that his wife had committed adultery with Lord Wharton he punished her by locking her in her rooms in the family home, Raynham Hall. According to Mary Wortley Montagu, Dorothy was in fact entrapped by the Countess of Wharton. She invited Dorothy over to stay for a few days knowing that her husband would never allow her to leave, not even to see her children. She remained at Raynham Hall until her death in 1726 from smallpox.

Sightings

The first recorded claim of a sighting of the ghost was by Lucia C. Stone concerning a gathering at Raynham Hall in the Christmas of 1835. Stone says that Lord Charles Townshend had invited various guests to the Hall, including a Colonel Loftus, to join in the Christmas festivities. Loftus and another guest named Hawkins said they had seen the “Brown Lady” one night as they approached their bedrooms, noting in particular the dated brown dress she wore. The following evening Loftus claimed to have seen the “Brown Lady” again, later reporting that on this occasion he was drawn to the spectre’s empty eye-sockets, dark in the glowing face. Loftus’ sightings led to some staff permanently leaving Raynham Hall.

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