Monday, May 17, 2010

The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall (Busted?)

When I was a kid, I loved books about "true" ghost stories, even though they freaked me out.  Two stories were extra scary.  One was about a zombie-looking ghost of a murdered woman who appeared in a junk shop basement.  The other tale was famous- The Brown Lady of Raynham hall.
Raynham Hall was built in Norfolk, U.K. in the 1600s (It's still here today).  According to the legend, by the 1800s, visitors sometimes spotted a ghostly lady in brown brocade (sometimes satin) dress.   She'd show up at the bedside or in the hallway, carrying a lamp and "grinning diabolically."   And some said she had "gouged out" eyes!   That was scary enough for me, but there was more- the ghost books had a photograph of her!
Here the photo:
It's an icon of ghostlore.   I took it seriously when I was a kid.  It gave me nightmares!
As an adult more suspicious.
I don't believe in ghosts, but assuming I'm wrong, this serene figure looks nothing like the menacing, disheveled specter from the legend.
A few have noticed the shape looks something like a Madonna statue.   Could it be a double exposure?  Had the  photographers snapped a picture of the former, then captured the staircase on the same plate?
I tried to recreate the process.
First I found an internet photo of a Madonna.  Here's one from a church (also in Norfolk, but 40+ miles away from Raynham Hall):


I digitally cut out the figure, turned it black and white, blurred it a bit and superimposed it  into the famous photo:


Hey!  It fits.
Here's another version, with the Madonna scooted off to the right:

Look familiar?  They look like near duplicates, with the "ghost" facing a a slightly different direction.   I bet the photographer was pulling a fast one using a similar statue.  What do you think?


13 comments:

Sally said...

wonderful post. we used to go to Pawley's Island in South Carolina for a week each summer where there was the Gray Lady story which scared me so much- she always appeared right before the hurricane- to police officers etc.

Pile Girl said...

How cool that you figured that out!

stray said...

I'm susceptible to stories of visions of Mary, so I just can't be sure.

Namowal said...

Hi Sally,
Tell me more about the Gray Lady. (Funny how so many legendary ghosts are female- I wonder if it's like that in other cultures?)

Hi Pile Girl,
Thanks!
Actually I'm not the first person who thought- wait a sec- that looks like a Madonna statue! but I've never seen one composited next to the original image before.

Linda said...

When I went to Stray's art show in Knoxville last year, I stayed in an old hotel on Market Square Mall. I caught a glimpse of the Chartreuse Lady coming out of the elevator late that night.

Namowal said...

Chartreuse Lady, Linda?
A ghost that tint might be your patron spirit.

A group of lady ghosts, (The Gray Lady, The Red Lady, etc..) would be a good jumping point for a story or a cartoon. Maybe they haunt the same place and band together to fight bad guys. Or maybe it's a reality show- but I guess it wouldn't be called "Survivor"

stray said...

Linda: was there a real live chartreuse lady?

Linda said...

Namo, you are funnnnnnny. Stray, all right, it was I. When I got out of the elevator, I caught a reflection of myself in the mirror and jumped. But that place was spooky.

Namowal said...

"I caught a reflection of myself in the mirror and jumped."

I've done that a more than a few times (my reflection, not your reflection)

stray said...

That place was spooky! I heard it's up for sale. I remember now the sick green....

Anonymous said...

>I digitally cut out the figure, turned it black and white, blurred it a bit and superimposed it
>digitally
Yeah, right...

Anonymous said...

but it is an old picture. ur method is quite new. by the not a believer myself. i just think it is just aa illusion.

Anonymous said...

The original photo dated 1936 has been analyzed and found to be untouched in any way. The negative also shows the image . It has been proven to be authentic. Just thought you should know.