• JM Gray

classic phantom photographs.

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

As a child, I was fascinated with the 'Mystery Photographs' on page 29 of the Usborne 'World of the Unknown... All About Ghosts'.

Three of them are featured in this blog, and they still have the same effect on me now, as they did back then. I stare at them, but I can't bring myself to do it for too long. It's as if my staring will make them more real. So now, as I did back then, I turn the page or look away and I never, ever leave the book left open. Likewise, I won't leave my study with them peering back from the computer screen. After all, who knows what could happen?

In this, my first blog, I bring you a short introduction to arguably the UK's six most famous ghosts caught on camera. To my knowledge, they have all been confirmed as legitimate photographs when studied by experts.


Newby Church, Yorkshire. 1963.

Taken by Revd. Kenneth Lord in the Church of Christ the Consoler, he said the figure was not visible when he took the picture. Estimated to stand at approximately nine-foot-tall, the cowled figure wears what resembles a monk's habit and has its face covered by a loose-fitting mask. Many speculate the spirit to be that of a 16th Century monk, concluding that similar white masks were worn to hide the effects of leprosy or other gruesome disfigurements.


Raynham Hall, Norfolk. 1936.

Captured during a photoshoot for Country Life magazine, the spectre on the stair is said to be the Brown Lady; the spirit of Lady Dorothy Walpole, who was entrapped in the house by her jealous husband, until her death in 1726. In this instance, the photographer saw the spectre drifting down the stairs while he was setting up his equipment. Thankfully, he caught a perfect picture before she vanished into thin air.


Mr Chinnery's mother-in-law. 1959.

Mrs Chinnery took this photograph of her husband after visiting the grave of her recently departed mother. In fact, it was taken exactly one week after she had passed. The Chinnery's didn't notice anything unusual at the time, but when the pictures came back from being developed, they were shocked to see Mrs Chinnery's mother in the back of the car.

Although the image remains a mystery, some professionals put the appearance of the spectre down to double exposure as there is a slight overlap between the white scarf and the door frame.


The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. 1966.

Often referred to as the ghost of the Tulip Staircase, this image was taken by Revd. Ralph Hardy, who was intending to capture the architecture of the impressive spiral staircase. However, he also caught a robed figure grasping the handrail with both hands. Experts, including those from Kodak, say the image has not been altered in any way.

There are said to be many spirits that linger in the 400-year-old, Queen's House, which forms the oldest part of the Maritime Museum. In fact, some people claim that there are two phantoms in this photo.


Goddard’s Squadron. 1919.

Taken days after the end of WW1, the image shows Freddy Jackson peering over the shoulder of the chap fourth from left on the back row. Three days prior to this picture being taken, Freddy had been killed in a terrible accident at the airfield where the picture had been taken. Freddy is the only person in the image not to be wearing a hat, thus ruling out the possibility of double exposure.

Whilst the picture was taken in 1919, it wasn't published until 1975.


Combermere Abbey, Cheshire. 1891.

This photo captures the faint image of Lord Combermere sitting in his favourite chair, however at the time the picture was taken, his funeral was taking place four miles away.

Days earlier, the Lord had been involved in an accident involving a horse-drawn carriage in which his legs were badly damaged. His injuries led to a blood clot and then his eventual death. Notice how the apparition is only visible from the waist up.

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