A friend bought a new small terraced house of late Victorian origin in a northern city. She liked it; it had no bad vibes (and houses sometimes do) but she had to do work: knocking down a couple of walls, damp-proofing, rewiring and so on. She was tight on budget so decided to do as much of the work as possible herself. Nothing untoward was seen, heard or sensed…
But she had a dog, a Jack Russell terrier. He spent weekdays with her brother and sister-in-law, who lived nearby, and Friday night to Monday morning with her. On the first weekend that she started work, she took Barney along. But Barney would not go near the house. He hesitated at the gate, had to be dragged up the front path, and refused absolutely to go inside. She picked him up and carried him in but he shivered and his tail went down and he howled. As soon as she opened the front door, he shot outside.
Her brother and sister-in-law occasionally worked on the house when she was at work and they had Barney. And every time, Barney refused to go into the house. He howled if forced to and shot out the moment he could. Barney had never behaved in this way.
The house was finished and my friend moved in. But Barney continued to howl and resist being taken up the front path. She put him into the kitchen in his basket and shut the door. He had always slept in this way. But here he howled all night, and when she went down to him, she found him shaking and trembling, with the hairs on his neck up, and his tail down. No person ever saw, felt or sensed anything, but in the end she sold the house and bought another a couple of miles away. From the first, Barney settled happily and did not howl in the night again.
I have no idea what upset him, nor did she. But there was undoubtedly something in that house. I have never knowingly seen or heard a ghost, but I have sensed disturbing, even evil, atmospheres in certain buildings that have convinced me of the supernatural. Like Barney really. Except that I have never howled.
This is an extract from the Christmas issue of the Spectator, out now. To read more ghost stories, click here