I've found the AE brown shell to be variable, and I actually like this. Sometimes it varies by the age of the shoe, sometimes it's just luck of the draw (see the 2 pairs of brown shell Norwich, ordered at the same time in September 2014).
I believe that in May 2015 AE moved to a darker brown for their shell. See Strand pic below from a May 2015 order. Somebody called it "deep dark brown", or something like that. Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.
Townley was ordered in January 2015, but it was a leftover from an older webgem or MTO of some kind.