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Raynham Hall: Wikis


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Raynham Hall is a country house in Norfolk, England. For 300 years it has been the seat of the Townshend family. The hall gave its name to the area, known as The Raynhams, and is reported to be haunted, providing the scene for possibly the most famous ghost photo of all time, the famous Brown Lady descending the staircase. However, the ghost has been seen infrequently since the photo was taken. Its most famous resident was Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend (1674-1738), leader in the House of Lords.

Raynham Hall



Raynham Hall is one of the most splendid of the great houses of Norfolk. It was begun by Sir Roger Townshend and was the first of its kind in England. Perhaps because of the three-year grand tour of Europe which Sir Roger had undertaken, Raynham was built in an entirely new style, abandoning native tradition and following the Italian form and plan. Raynham could easily be mistaken for a house built nearly a century later.


In 1713, Lord Townshend married Walpole's prettiest sister, Dorothy. She was his second wife, and is reputed in the gossip of the time to have been previously the mistress of Lord Wharton, "whose character was so infamous, and his lady's complaisant subserviency so notorious, that no young woman could be four and twenty hours under their roof with safety to her reputation."

Lady Townshend was buried in 1726. But there is a tradition that she did not die in that year and that the funeral was a mock interment.

Instead, she is rumoured to have been locked up in the house by her husband. This is why the ghost of "Dolly" Townshend, the "little brown lady of Raynham," is said still to haunt the oak staircase of the house in the twilight.


The Hall at Raynham was begun in 1619 with indications that it may have been designed by Inigo Jones. Later extensions and interiors were designed by William Kent, the one-time coach-painter who turned his talents to designing houses and furniture. To add the North wing to Raynham and decorate the interior, the 2nd Viscount Townshend called in William Kent, later to be one of the architects of nearby Holkham. Much of Kent's finest work can be seen at Raynham, especially in the elaborately carved chimney-pieces, the mosaic paintings and decorated doorways. The impressive and beautiful ceiling of' the Marble Hall with its motif of Lord Townshend's coat of arms (see picture on right) is famous.



Many fine portraits still adorn Kent's splendid rooms at Raynham. Hanging beside his lovely black and white marble chimney-piece in the Princess' Room is a painting which is believed to be a preliminary sketch for the famous Van Dyck portrait "Children of Charles I." Until 1904, there were many more paintings at Raynham, including several fine family portraits by Kneller and Reynolds. The most famous and valuable was "Belisarius " by Salvator Rosa, which was presented to the 2nd Viscount Townshend by Frederick William, King of Prussia. This was valued at 5,000 pounds in 1804, but was disposed of a hundred years later for 273 pounds.

George Townshend, 7th Marquess Townshend, is the present owner of the Hall. He succeeded to the title when he was only five.

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Coordinates: 52°47′47″N 0°47′25″E / 52.7965°N 0.7902°E / 52.7965; 0.7902


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