She appeared to be coming through the wall at them. One of the gentlemen and the
gamekeepers were petrified with terror, but the other gallant, bolder than the rest, stood resolutely
in the path of the Brown Lady as she approached, but she passed right through him in a puff of icy
smoke and disappeared through the wall beyond, leaving her hold challenger utterly devastated by
his uncanny experience.
The Brown Lady made another appearance in 1835. It was appropriately enough at
Christmas-time and there was a large house-party at Raynham Hall.
Among the guests of Lord and Lady Charles Townshend were Colonel and Mrs. Loftus.
Colonel Loftus was Lord Townshend's cousin and was also the brother of Lady Townshend. It
was the practice of the aristocracy in those days to marry within narrow circles, and marriages
between cousins was very common.
Loftus and another guest named Hawkins lingered late one night over a protracted game
of chess and finally went upstairs. They saw the Brown Lady standing outside the door of Lady
Townshend's room. The apparition turned and walked along the corridor, pursued by Loftus, but
the old warrior had to give up, and the Brown Lady soon melted from his sight.
This night Loftus saw it only dimly, but the following night he came face to face with it on
the grand staircase-a stately lady, he said, in rich brocade with a coif on her hair. 'Although her
features were clearly defined, where her eyes should have been there were nothing but dark
During that spooky Christmas at Raynham the host himself reluctantly admitted to having
seen the ghost. 'I am forced to believe in it,' he told one of his house guests, 'for she ushered me
to my room last night.'
But the ghost caused great alarm among the servants, some of whom had seen it, and were
horror-stricken at the sight of her face, which consisted of dark hollows and was truly macabre.
The servants were all for leaving.
Normally there was no servant problem in those days, but a really frightening supernatural
apparition could cause one. His lordship in desperation had all the locks changed at Raynham and
even employed policemen disguised as manservants in case the ghost turned out to be a practical
joker, though Townshend had little hope that this was the case. Certainly no practical joker was
found and the Brown Lady continued to haunt.
Townshend then summoned the assistance of captain Frederick Marryat, a local cerevrity,
who had recently settled in Norfolk at Langham Manor. Marryat, who had spent years at sea, had
become famous for his sea stories and books for boys, such as Mr. Midshipman Easy and The
Children of the New Forest.
Captain Marryat, by no means the superstitious sailor, did not believe in ghosts. He
thought some sort of trick was being played upon the Townshend family. He had a theory that it
was connected with the smugglers and poachers who abounded in that part of Norfolk in those
days, and who were, he thought, using some old ruined buildings near the Hall for their hiding
places. He was sure that there were ruffians lurking around who would have much to gain by
frightening the Townshend family away from the Hall.
The story was later told in Marryat's biography, written by his daughter, Florence
Marryat, herself a novelist with a keen interest in psychic phenomena.
Marryat was invited to stay at Raynham and he insisted upon sleeping in the room where
hung the portrait of the Brown Lady-a splendid bedroom paneled in cedarwood.
How serious the celebrated author was about his theory that the apparitions were caused
by some cunning trick of desperate smugglers anxious to frighten the Townshends away is open
to question. The Townshend family had lived at Raynham for well over a century and the Brown
Lady was part of the Townshend legend. She had even scared George IV out of the house in the
middle of the night. It was not likely that anyone would believe that the Townshends, having
endured the ghost for so long, would be scared away from their historic country seat by a few
smugglers. It is not seriously to be supposed that Captain Marryat, that professional romancer,
was foolish enough to entertain such improbable fancies.
Anyway, he got his coveted invitation to the Hall and ghost-hunting was good fun, so he
One night, after he had retired to his room and undressed except for his trousers and
singlet, Lord Charles Townshend's two young nephews knocked on his door and asked him if he
would go into their room and give an opinion about a new gun which one of them had just
During the evening there had been much talking and joking about the Brown Lady, and as
he left his room Marryat picked up his loaded pistol, saying laughingly to the two young men: 'In
case we meet the Brown Lady.'
After the Captain had inspected the gun, the two young men offered, in her same joking
mood, to escort him safely back to his room-'In case you are kidnaped by the Brown Lady.'
It was a long, dark corridor, and the lights had been extinguished, and as the three men
walked along it they saw a woman approaching them carrying a lamp. They were in that part of
the house reserved for the men guests, and the sight of the approaching woman caused them a
little unease, especially Marryat in his vest and trousers. But the Hall was full and it was possible
that a lady had lost her way in the labyrinthine corridors and staircases of Raynham.
There was only one thing to do, consistent with modesty and gentlemanly behavior, and
that was to hide. The three of them stepped quickly into the open doorway of an empty room and
stood there in the darkness waiting for the lady to pass by.
But the lady did not pass by. She stopped at the doorway, and when the three men saw the
manner in which she was dressed they had no doubt at all as to who she was. Her resemblance to
the portrait in Captain Marryat's bedroom was unmistakable-'the waxy countenance, the large
shining eyes and the noiseless step'. There was no reference this time to the hollows in the face.
The spectral lady was plainly not in her macabre mood that night.
The Brown Lady held the lighted lamp before her face and then, said Marryat, looked
straight into his eye and smiled at him. But it was a diabolical, a wicked smile, which so alarmed
Marryat that he stepped into the corridor, pistol in hand, and discharged it point blank at her.
As the bullet passed through her insubstantial form, still evilly and mysteriously smiling,
she disappeared, leaving nothing but a wisp of smoke, and a bullet-hole in the door behind her.
After that Captain Marryat entertained no doubts at all about the reality of the ghost at
Raynham Hall. But the Brown Lady herself must have been affronted by such ungallant
behavior, for she did not return to her old haunts for many a long year after Marryat himself had
joined her in the shades, which he did in 1848.