One of the most famous buildings in England for it's reported hauntings, Raynham Hall has a long history of sightings, reports and strange phenomena stretching back over 250 years which make it an ideal location to discuss as part of our ongoing series of articles investigating the paranormal. Raynham Hall housed generations of the Townshend family including the politician Charles Townshend, a man who, through strategic public relations, became the Leader of the British House of Lords.
We've all seen the photograph of the 'Brown Lady', an image of a transparent 'entity' floating up the staircase which was taken in 1936 by photographer Indra Shira and his assistant who were visiting the Hall to take pictures of it's interior. (Click Here) Although convincing, the authenticity of the picture is by no means certain, but there have been a significant number of other reports of strange phenomena in Raynham Hall which when combined provide a timeline of occurances stretching back hundreds of years. Many of these occurances are not as well known as the infamous photograph, and some of them may surprise you. Here we recount a few of them.
One of the most famous of reports regarding the ghost of the 'Brown Lady' occured in the early 1800's, when George IV stayed at the house. He spent the night in the state bedroom, but was awoken to see a woman dressed all in brown standing at his bedside. The woman was deathly pale, and scared him to such an extent that he absolutely insisted thereafter that he would not stay 'another hour in this accursed house'.
Another visitor to the house, Colonel Loftus, recounted encountering the ghost twice at Christmas in 1835. On the first night, he witnessed the ghost standing in a corridor outside the room of Lady Townshend. He attempted to follow her, but as he approached her the ghost disappeared down the corridor. The next night he witnessed her again, this time on the staircase carrying a lamp. He made a sketch of her afterwards which he showed to the other guests at the house.
The next encounter came shortly afterwards. Captain Frederick Marryat and two of Lord Charles Townshend's nephews came across the ghost again in a corridor and again she was carrying a lamp. Marryat claimed that the ghost had smiled at him in a 'diabolical manner'. He promptly raised his pistol and fired a shot at the ghost at point blank range. The bullet, he claimed, passed straight through the entity before him and was later found lodged in a door oposite where he had been standing.
The consistancy of these reports is interesting, all of them, including the picture, describe a woman dressed in brown. Often she was seen carrying a lamp, and was most commonly seen at night. But who was she ? Who was the identity of the woman who might still haunt Raynham Hall to this day ? Although the answer to this is not certain, some believe that the ghost would be that of Lady Dorothy Townshend. She married Lord Charles Townshend in 1712, but when he discovered that she had been a mistress to Lord Wharton, he was so angry that he imprisoned her, keeping her locked up in her room at the house. Stories of her death are varied, it is thought that she either died falling down the stairs or of Small Pox.
It is most interesting to note however, that had she indeed perished falling down the stairs; that the stairs in question would in most likelihood have been the very stairs on which the ghost of the Brown Lady was famously photographed by Indra Shira and his assistant in 1936.