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The Brown Lady
By Brett Barnett · Last Updated October 24th, 2012
The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

This photograph, which first appeared in Country Life magazine in 1936, is perhaps the most famous ghost picture ever taken.


The so-called "Brown Lady" of Raynham Hall was first sighted by Colonel Loftus during a Christmas gathering in 1835. Loftus and a fellow guest claimed to have seen the ghost wandering down the hall in her signature brown dress.

The next evening, Loftus once again saw the ghost, this time from the front. He was immediately drawn to the figure's face and it's unnatural glow, which highlighted the two empty sockets where the ghost's eyes should have been.

Frederick Marryat was the next to see the ghost in 1836. While staying at Raynham Hall, Marryat insisted that he stay in the room in which a painting of the Brown Lady hung, and was said to be one of the locations her spirit frequently visited. Marryat was convinced that the 'ghost' was actually theives and was determined to prove his theory.

He slept in the room with a revolver under his pillow. On one evening, he was talking with two other guests in another room. On his way back to his own room, accompanied by his two friends, Marryat witnessed the light of a lantern down the corridor.

The light appeared to be moving towards them. On account of the fact he was clothed only in his night clothes, and not wanting to be seen in such a state by one of the ladies of the house, Marryat moved into the doorway of a nearby room and waited for the figure to pass the door so he could move back to his own room.

As he peered through the crack in the door, he watched the figure walk down the hallway and as it grew closer he saw that is bore an amazing resemblence to the descriptions given to the brown lady. He reached over and placed his hand on his gun.

And then the figure paused right by the door, close enough for Marryat to see her face through the crack in the door. The Brown Lady turned to him, seemingly glaring at him through her empty eye sockets with her mouth curled into a diabolical grin.

Marryat immediately leapt out from behind the door and fired three shots at the figure. Naturally, it vanished before his eyes and the three bullets were later found embedded in the wall at the end of the hall.

The Photograph

On September 19th, 1936, Captain Hubert C. Provand and his assistand, Indre Shira, were visiting Raynham hall on a photography assignment for Country Life magazine.

At around four o'clock in the afternoon, the two were working on photographs of one of the house's staircases when Shira witnessed a ghostly vapour floating down the stairs and gradually taking the form of a woman.

He called out to Captain Provand, who was setting up the camera, and insisted he take a picture immediately. Provand did so, unaware of what Shira had witnessed.

When the photograph was later developed, it revealed the ghostly image that is now familiar to anyone with an interest in the supernatural and paranormal.

The ghost hasn't been sighted since that day.

"The Brown Lady turned to him, seemingly glaring at him through her empty eye sockets with her mouth curled into a diabolical grin."

The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
Photographed by Captain C. Provand and Indre Shira.
First published in Country Life magazine, December 16th, 1936.

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