Lady Dorothy Walpole

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1686 to 1726
Location: Norfolk, Englandmap
Surname/tag: Walpole
This page has been accessed 1,844 times.

?? Ghost Profiles on Wikitree

Viscountess Townshend

The ghost of Viscountess Dorothy Townshend is called the Brown Lady because she appears wearing a brown brocade dress.

Dorothy Walpole was born in Houghton, Norfolk, in 1686, one of 19 children of Robert Walpole and Mary Burwell Walpole. Dorothy's father was a member of the local gentry and a Whig
politician who represented the borough of Castle Rising in the House of Commons.

Her mother was the daughter and heiress of Sir Geoffrey Burwell of Rougham, Suffolk. Her brother Robert is considered to be the first Prime Minister of Great Brittain. [1][2]
Dorothy did not have a very happy life. She fell in love with the Second Viscount Townshend. Dorothy's father was Lord Townshend’s guardian and feared that his consent would be misconstrued as an attempt to gain an advantage for his daughter so he refused their request to be married. Lord Townshend eventually married the daughter of Baron Pelham of Laughton. Dorothy became the mistress of Lord Wharton.
Lord Townshend became a widower in 1711 and shortly afterwards he finally married Dorothy Walpole. Afterwards, he found out about her relationship with Lord Wharton. He was a frightfully abusive man and locked he up as a result. Some reports claim that Lady Wharton lured Dorothy to be locked away. She was held a prisoner until she died of small pox, another version is she died after being pushed down the stairway of Raynham Hall.

Dorothy's ghost gained fame when it was captured in a photograph in 1936 during a shoot for a magazine article for Country Life Magazine on Raynham Hall. The photographer and his assistant had already taken one shot of the large staircase and were preparing for another when the ghostly lady in brown brocade appeared before them! They quickly took another shot and captured this picture which they published in the December 1936 issue. [3]
The Brown Lady is considered to be one of England's most famous hauntings. [4] Before the article and photograph, the lady had been seen on many occasions before.

The Brown Lady was first seen Christmas of 1835.
Lucia P Stone wrote of the event:

Lord Charles Townsend had invited a number of guests to the hall for the Christmas festivities. Among them was a man called Colonel Loftus, who, with another guest called Hawkins, witnessed a figure in a brown dress. He also ran into the apparition on the main stairs. He described her as an "aristocratic looking lady with one horrific feature: where her eyes should have been there were only empty sockets, highlighted in a face that glowed with an unearthly light." The Colonel drew a sketch of the apparition. [5]

Ken Anderson Sketch, 1960s

Dorothy was an inspiration for Walt Disney's imagineer Ken Anderson of the ghost bride of Captain Gore of Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square, Disneyland.


  1. "Baron Walpole", Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p. 1128
  2. Leadam, Isaac Saunders (1899), "Walpole, Robert (1676-1745)", in Lee, Sidney, Dictionary of National Biography 59, London: Smith, Elder & Co, pp. 178–207
  3. Country Life magazine 26 December 1936
  4. Mysterious Britain, Lady of Raynham Hall
  5. Mysterious Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

See also:


Wikipedia [2] says her lover was Thomas, Lord Wharton died 1715 not his son Philip, Lord Wharton.

  • Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Paula J and Terry Wright. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
  • Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.

Categories: Ghosts