"Brown Lady of Raynham Hall" ghost photo

Some older books offer “evidence” of ghosts with a photo taken in the 1930’s at Raynham Hall (England, near Norwich, I think). The photo shows a blobby figure that is said to be the ghost decending the stairs. Kinda spooky, but not exactly convincing.
Anyway, has the photo ever been explained or debunked? Did the photographers ever come forward and say they were pulling a fast one?

Not sure about that photo in particular, but “ghost” photos were popular around the turn of the century. You can safely assume they were all faked or the result of lens flare or some other unintended optical effect. It’s trivially easy to create a double-exposure photograph, making a white-sheeted asssitant appear as a ghostly apparition on the stairs.

A real common way of getting the effect is a slow-emulsion film and a really long exposure.

(All photography experts may now come in and upbraid my sloppy terminology use.)

The upshot is to have the “ghost” only be in the picture for a fraction of the time the shutter is open, so that the image doesn’t etch as completely on the film. Generally the speed of the film is slow enough that it won’t capture the subject moving in and out of position but it will capture the subject holding that position. I know this doesn’t directly answer the OP, but it is a possible approach to how the photograph was made.

I’ve seen Civil War buffs do this for effect on schmaltzy photographs - the grieving widow bending low over an unmarked grave, the “ghost” of her husband consoling her with outstretched hand.

It wouldn’t be so damn cheesy if it were sepia-toned instead of full color.

As I recall the ‘brown lady’ photo doesn’t have any
recognizable human features, just a general vertical shape
about human sized.

My guess is that it’s an honest misinterpretation of some
problem with the film, exposure, or negative.


Yes, but people still refuse to believe it. The previous link is a perfect demonstration.

Not that I know of. Although they may not have been active particpats in a hoax. Most “ghost” photos are the result of camera defects, reflections, improper usage, or defective film. The photographer may earnestly believe that the photo is “real”. I’m sure any of the professional photographers on this board can explain the various methods of duplicating the Brown Lady photo.

I would think it’s safe to say that all “ghost” photos are fake, intentional or not.

Having re-acquainted myself with the photo,
and reading the page wherein the photographers
claimed to see the ghost, I’d like to change
my opinion to ‘active deception’ on the
photographers’ part.

After checking the above link, it’s interesting to notice that the ghost photo looks nothing like the painting of the woman it’s supposed to represent. Nor does the “ghost” resemble the figure in the ghost legend- (eye sockets, etc).
The photo ghost looks a lot like someone in pants with a sheet/blanket wrapped around them. Maybe I’ll play with this image in photoshop and see if I can find any incriminating details…