1842 (ca.): She Forgot Her Gloves

Charles Loftis [1796-1883] was one of eight siblings to Charlotte Loftus [1792-1866], who was better known to history as Lady Townshend of Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England, after she had married into the Townshend family. Because of this close tie to Raynham Hall, Charles Loftus and all of his siblings spent much time there during holidays... and Charles is unique from his siblings in that he wrote about his experiences at Raynham Hall later in life. As part of this selection of old memories, Loftus also presented some of what he had heard and experienced regarding Raynham Hall's famous ghost, the "Brown Lady."

        Loftus' memories of this and much of his childhood were recorded in his 1876 book, My Youth by Sea and Land: From 1809 to 1816. Only part of one chapter of this book is devoted to discussing the ghost, popularly believed to be the spectre of Lady Dorothy Townshend [1686-1726]... and the anecdotes he gives don't name the people involved, and generally are from thirty years previous to his book's publication. So either we believe what Loftus tells us or we don't... there is no more evidence. Obviously, this is not an ideal situation for reporting a ghost!

She Forgot Her Gloves

        One of the accounts Loftus tells is that in 1942 (he thinks), an unnamed young female family member was caught unprepared at a large party in Raynham when a dance was proposed; she had left her white gloves back in her room.

        Her room was upstairs. As the young lady ascended the staircase, she saw, "to her great terror, the well-known face and figure of Lady Dorothy." For a moment or two the women looked at each other; then the figure of the ghostly lady slowly faded away.

        The now distraught young lady quickly retrieved her gloves and returned to the ballroom, where she sought out her aunt, the Lady Charlotte Townshend, to whom she she whispered "I have seen her..." and Lady Charlotte begged the young lady to keep the matter quiet, as it was generally believed that seeing the ghost was an ill omen.

        Loftus follows this brief story by telling how, the night after and at a dinner party elsewhere in the county, a lady had said to him "Oh, no! I shall not go to Raynham again to sleep, to see Lady Dorothy walking about." By context, it is implied this is not the same young lady as who had seen the ghost the evening before; but apparently, the news had gotten out.

        Back at Raynham Hall, servants became frightened, and only went up the stairs at night in couples. The housekeeper told Lord Charles Townshend that some servants might leave, and that she thought it would be a good idea to have a clergyman come to host an assembled prayer, with the doors locked and the windows open so as to drive out the ghost. I don't know if the service was performed, but Loftus sums up: "Perhaps the idea alarmed the lady; she did not appear for some time, but she was not expelled."

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