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Raynham Hall, Norfolk

One of the most splendid great houses in the Norfolk area, Raynham Hall was the first of its kind in England. Raynham Hall’s design abandoned traditions and followed Italian form and plan. It is the home to one of the most famous ghost photos of all time, the Brown Lady…

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Raynham Hall was built in 1619 by Sir Roger Townsend and many believe that it was designed by Inigo Jones. The extensions and interior added later were believed to be the works of William Kent, once a painter of coaches who turned his talents to designing houses and furniture. Much of his finest works can be seen in the hall, including an elaborately carved chimney, decorated doorways and mosaic paintings. The ceiling of the Marble Hall was one of his masterpieces.

The estate covers 7000 acres and occupies the first seven miles of the Wensum River. It is one of the oldest buildings in Norfolk and is heavily inspired by European architecture. It has been home to the Townsend family for more than 300 years. The Hall’s most famous resident was Charles Townsend, the second Viscount Townsend who lived from 1674 to 1738. He was once the leader in the House of the Lords.

Ghosts of Raynham Hall

Without a doubt, the Brown Lady is the Hall’s most popular resident ghost. The Brown Lady is thought to be that of Lady Dorothy, the wife of Turnip Townsend and the sister of Prime Minister Robert Walpole. She is reported to have been locked up in the residence by her better half and it’s believed this is one of the reasons why she still haunts the Raynham Hall staircase. A picture of the Brown Lady captured in the 1930s is one of the world’s most famous ghost photographs.

The photographers who captured the Brown Lady were Indre Shira and Captain Provand. They were assigned by Country Life Magazine to profile the famous Raynham Hall. The photo was later published in Country Life Magazine. The photograph is respected among ghost pictures enthusiasts; however, it also has its share of sceptics who label the photo a fake. Some photo experts have claimed that it is the result of double exposure or two images put together to form the figure of a spirit descending the stairs.

There were so many reports that Lady Dorothy was abused and maltreated by her husband, however, papers uncovered in the 1960s point to the contrary. Evidence suggests that she lived a happy and fulfilling life. She was buried in 1726; however, many people believe that she did not die in that year and that the funeral was nothing but a farce. They believed that she was locked up by her husband in the house.

Other spirits who are said to also live in the Hall are the Duke of Monmouth, the caretaker of a cocker spaniel, and two ghostly children. The old house has a long history of pain and suffering and people believe this is one of many things which draws tortured souls to it.

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