As Provand was setting up the shot, his assistant called out for the photo to be taken 'now', as something was descending the staircase. The result is this world famous ghost photo, said to be that of Lady Dorothy Walpole.
Setting a Scene
Little did they know that on this day they would capture the ghost that has said to be haunting the old country house since the mid 1800's.
The ghost is better known as the 'Brown Lady', as the spectre has been described as wearing a brown silk brocade dress.
It is believed that the Brown Lady is the spirit of Lady Dorothy Walpole, who died at Raynham Hall in 1726 from Smallpox, after a long incarceration within the houses walls.
Lady Dorothy Walpole
It is said that Dorothy had an affair with the 1st Duke of Wharton, Philip Wharton (yes all these upper class families make for quite complex reading and research), and her husband, Sir Walpole did not take too kindly to that, and had Dorothy locked in the upper floor rooms of their home - Raynham Hall.
Another story states that Dorothy was entrapped by the Countess of Wharton, never to leave the house... not even to see her children. It is said she returns to find, and finally be reunited with her children. A sad tale indeed!
Either way Lady Dorothy Walpole died of Smallpox 29th March 1726 aged forty.
Sightings of The Brown Lady
Captain Marryat (a gentleman who wrote novels set out at sea) retired to his room one night, and had remarked to two others he met on the way that he was carrying a gun as protection against the Brown Lady. It was at this point the apparition appeared and 'diabolically' grinned at the captain as she passed by him.
The captain took two shots, both passing straight through the apparition, to embed in the door and door frame beyond.
Many other people have witnessed the Brown Lady on the main staircase and in the bedrooms. Generally these sightings occur when heading to bed, or waking up in the middle of the night to find her standing in their rooms.
The ghost has also been seen right before tragic events and deaths that affect the Townsend Family. One evening, during a dinner party, many guests had seen the apparition, complete with her brown dress, walking through the crowd. The Spectre did not seem to recognise anyone and soon disappeared. The next morning, news of the death of George Walpole reached the group at the estate, George had died at about the same time the Brown Lady has been seen.
The Most Famous Ghost Photograph Ever Taken
Shira had seen the figure of a lady descend the staircase when he called for the photo to be taken. Upon development, the image did indeed show a spectral figure on the staircase; The Brown Lady had been captured at last!
The picture was published in Country Life magazine December 16th 1936, along with the accounts of Provand and Shira.
Renowned paranormal investigator Harry Price interviewed the two men and stated he could not find a flaw in their story, as the negative also showed the figure. With the exception of the two men lying, he could not see how the image could be anything but that of the ghost in question.