The Brown Lady Of Raynham Hall

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#32
One of the tales told of Raynham Hall is of a portrait of Dorothy Walpole. Viewed by daylight it is a quite normal painting. But gazed upon by night (I assume this means by moonlight) the image becomes a grinning skull.

Any truth to this one?

If the tale's true, the artist probably underpainted a skull (or at least a skull-shape) upon which to "hang" the features. It's possible that he (?) made that underpainting too bold and that the pigments don't quite cover.

Or might the artist have created this effect on purpose? He obviously didn't like Dolly very much, if that was the case.
 

Eponastill

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#33
Thanks Min Bannister (about the discussion elsewhere) I thought I was going mad and it was just me that noticed.
I still haven't found out if the staircase still exists. If it does, SURELY there's a photo of it on the web somewhere?
 

WhistlingJack

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#34
I've replaced the image I posted yesterday with a, I think, complete version (I can't find a standard picture of the staircase, though...).
 

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#36
gncxx said:
Seems to be quite short, doesn't she?
Some students of the photograph have suggested that the "ghost" is only about four feet tall.

This was discussed earlier on this thread. But if you re-read those communications you'll see why I don't care to open that particular can of worms again.

But it was that estimated height which originally got me thinking along the lines of BVM garden statues, which tend to average about that height.
 

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#38
Two other things the Raynham "ghost" reminds me of:

1. An ancient Egyptian mummy case. Might there have been one on the premises?

2. A Fisk mummiform coffin, popular in the 1850s. This was an American product but surely there must have been a British equivalent.
 

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#39
Bit of quick(ish) maths, using the height of the "figure and the height of the step it's standing on:

If the stair risers were 6" the figure would be approx 4' 3"
If the stair risers were 7" the figure would be approx 5' 0"
If the stair risers were 8" the figure would be approx 5' 8"
If the stair risers were 9" the figure would be approx 6' 5"

but as you can't see all the riser from the angle the photo is taken from, the would probably be slightly less than above.
 

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#40
For what it's worth, Dr. Nandor Fodor, one of the most practical-minded of all paranormal investigators, not only accepted the authenticity of the Raynham Hall photograph but visited Raynham Hall to further investigate it. Even if Dr. Fodor was in error as to the realiability of the photograph, he at least performed experimental work concerning it.

Fodor wrote in his BETWEEN TWO WORLDS:

"I had examined the film. It was as covincing as it could be. Mr. Indre Shira and Capt. Provand had stood my cross-examination very well. So I came to Raynham Hall to see the staircase for myself.....Lady Townsend was very sympathetic to my inquiries. She permitted me to photograph the main staircase from the same position where the professional photographers had stood. The result strengthened the presumption that the ghost photograph was genuine. I found that from the position where it was taken an average man, standing on the thirteenth step from the top, shows the same height on the picture as the ghost shows. This effect, by double exposure would be rather difficult to produce."

During his investigations Fodor stayed in the Monmouth Room at the top of the famous staircase.
 

ArthurCS

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#41
What fascinates me the most about this photograph is that it seems to be one of the very rare instances of the photographer actually seeing the object in question, and deliberately attempting to capture it on film. The common trend seems to be along the lines of, "I didn't notice anything until I developed the photograph."
 

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#42
The uncluttered photo given previously in this thread ( http://www.ghosts.org/ghpics/brown2.gif ) seems so much less impressive than any of the (misleading?) reproductions Ive ever seen and Im surprised at the degree of difference.

If the photo was originally a clever fake, as has been mooted, then is it the case that about 70 years of photo-manipulation by publishing houses has contributed to this fakery? Or are we talking about primitive reproduction techniques contributing to blurring of the image? And cropping?

If its a genuine spirit captured on photographic paper, Im surprised at the degree of symmetricality (that a word?) it displays, and uncanny likeness to a graveyard angel or statue or, as indicated above, Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
 

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#43
The spectre DOES have facial features, even though they are quite misty. I'd like to see a skilled artist sketch 'em out.

Or might there be some feature of PhotoShop that can accomplish this?
 

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#44
HenryFort said:
...Im surprised at the degree of symmetricality (that a word?) it displays, and uncanny likeness to a graveyard angel or statue or, as indicated above, Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Its also exactly dead centre of the uncropped photo and starting to look exactly like a little Holy Water bottle one of my sisters used to have after her First Holy Communion, which had Mary on there, with her hands joined together.

Actually the more I look at it, Im getting a real Jesus-vibe off it.
 

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#45
HenryFort said:
Its also exactly dead centre of the uncropped photo
But is that so surprising? The camera was apparently already situated to take a photograph of the staircase. That would automatically make it the center of the shot.
 

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#46
OldTimeRadio said:
HenryFort said:
Its also exactly dead centre of the uncropped photo
But is that so surprising? The camera was apparently already situated to take a photograph of the staircase. That would automatically make it the center of the shot.
Yeah thatd account for a well composed shot of a staircase. But according to the story as given, the guy who took the photo didnt see anything, it was the other guy. So the guy taking the photo just knocked one out. Are we to assume the ghost positioned itself exactly centre frame for the portrait?
 

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#47
escargot1 said:
We have 3 alternative explanations -

1. A real ghost
2. A clever fake.
3. A misinterpreted photograph.
Having thought about this photo probably way too much in the last hour, I cant see how 3 could be an option. Because the guy saw something on the stairs. That is, light getting into the lens or whatever must be ruled out because the guy said he saw a manifestation, prior to the plate being exposed.

But skimming through the story again as given in 215, you have the two pro photographers in the room, one puts his head under the cloth to take a shot, the other shouts "oh my god now!" and they get a shot. It turns out the plate after being exposed shows a ghostly figure that only the guy who didnt take the photo saw.

Its got the ring of a episode of Columbo about it.

There are also a few askance comments in the piece in 215 about Indre Shira and the general impression he gave to the guy who interviewed the pair. And later on the Harry Price quote: "Only collusion between the two men would account for the ghost if it is a fake." Which actually is not true...

Just a Idea

Indre Shira acting alone could have arranged for a initial exposure of one of the plates for a short time, enough to take a shallow image of a Holy Water bottle, or similar. This plate could then have been marked in a particular way so that Shira knew when it was back in the machine. He then waits until his partner has his head under the cloth and comes out with the exclamation. The other guy would be none the wiser:

Indre Shira is an unidentified scotsman FGS, how much more guilty can you get? He was "of a nervous and superstitious nature" under interview and the "business brain of the pair" and would have drawn credence from the innocent partner, who may have been ignorant of the whole thing. On arrival he stated that he "wanted to photograph a ghost." Presumably he made money on the deal, as according to the FT article you have him hawking print and negative.
 

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#49
Just one last thing...

Another detail from the story has the ghost apparently moving towards the photographers, and the lens being uncapped for 6 seconds. Yet the ghostly figure on the exposure displays no blurring whatsoever and seems to have been perfectly still for the duration of the exposure.
 
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#51
Are there any other examples of their work to view? How good were the photographers? I know they did this for a living but not every artist is an accomplished artist.

There seems to be a variety of light sources in the photo. One behind the lens, one at the top of the picture, the bannister and wall seems to be flaring and to the right it looks like an internal light in the frame. Has the theory of mutiple flares in the lens been debated.

Given the era it was produced in and the mystique that has been attached to it since I'm afraid I too find it too contrite, too perfect.

I like Henry's idea of ne'er do well stumbling across as means of fleecing his social superiors.

No BVM for me. Holly Golightly as she appeared in the rain. Or maybe it was the end of My Fair Lady.
 

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#52
Moooksta said:
How good were the photographers? I know they did this for a living but not every artist is an accomplished artist.
According to Dr. Nandor Fodor they were "Photographers to the King," but that may mean nothing more than that they photographed a royal stable for insurance purposes.

As I understand it, any firm which has ever delivered an order of soap to Buckingham Palace is afterwards entitled to call itself "Purveyors to the Queen."
 

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#53
WhistlingJack said:
I've had a quick look on the web and this is the best copy of the photo that I can find: -

http://www.ghosts.org/ghpics/brown2.gif

It's plain that the 'double-exposed painting' which helped form the argument in the recent FT article is in fact part of a landing halfway down the stairs...
I agree with this too.

The article is now up at http://www.forteantimes.com/articles/215_raynham_hall_1.shtml

on PAGE 2 said:
On the left hand side as the viewer sees the picture, (i.e. on the Brown Lady’s right hand side) hangs a framed picture on the wall. Immediately beneath, seemingly hovering in the air, is a duplicate image of this picture. Equally, when one looks at the length of the banisters, they do not connect, and the angles suggest that the camera has been shaken and the staircase accidentally photographed twice.
However, if you were to see the staircase side-on, I feel it would look something like this hastily drawn bannister & steps:

 

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#54
Yeah I think a lot of us are with you on the landing, it seems incredible that anyone thought there were 2 exposures of the staircase, handrail etc., unless they were dealing with a copy that was perhaps really blurred in the publication process or something.

I still find it remarkable that the more spectral versions of this photo (eg mookstas further up) are preferred to the far clearer (and more authentic/original?) WhistlingJack photo. I dont see how the one below could have been derived from the more ghostly versions - the other way round, surely.

 

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#55
All right, try this -

Could the image in the photograph be an EGYPTIAN MUMMY CASE?

It's exactly the right shape; the few details which can be perceived of the "clothing" are compatible.

And if I hit myself in the head enough I can convince myself that there's an Egyptian headdress.

Might there have been such a coffin at Raynham?
 

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#56
I always imagine mummy cases depict figures holding implements across their chests, however a quick glance at google images seems to blow that idea out the water.

I like Mary a bit better because the headdress aspect seems to suit the shape here, whereas the mummys have wider heads and better-defined and more "child-bearing" shoulders.
 

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#57
HenryFort said:
I always imagine mummy cases depict figures holding implements across their chests, however a quick glance at google images seems to blow that idea out the water.
You might be thinking of crusaders tombs - I think they often had swords over their chests and often a dog at their feet too. :?
 

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#59
Looking into the two actual guys that were involved in this, I cant find anything for them unrelated to the Raynham Hall photo (unsurprisingly). However, found this reference to Madame Indre Shira, Cheirastrologist (1938). Anyone know what one of them is, sounds pretty astral.



Provand is referred to as Captain throughout, Shira as Mr Indre Shira (although noted that this is a pseudonym, plenty of anagrams Andre Irish etc etc). Are there any reliable sources for their full and real names? The only website I can find that refers to Provands first name is this Spanish one:

www.losenigmas.com.ar/parapsic/fantca1.htm

Lord knows what thats all about. But it has his first name as Luck. Provando is Italian for "trying".

So we may have someone "Trying their Luck" and someone blowing a load of cigarette smoke onto the photo, who engages in a little cheirastrology on the side.
 
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#60
HenryFort said:
(eg mookstas further up)
I did?

I can see the floating picture frame to the left hand side and the disjointed stairway (there even looke like the step can be seen in the top left) but surely there would be other frames floating on the stairs?

The round halo around her is interesting.
 
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