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The Ghost Family I Lived With

Don't forget me because I will be back

By Sam H ArnoldPublished 8 months ago 8 min read

It is hard to say precisely when the haunting started. It seemed always to have been part of my life. Early on, before I was old enough to remember, my parents told a story of a strange encounter with their Labrador.

Laddie was the black lab's name. He lay asleep in the hall whilst my parents sat having dinner at the old table they had rescued and renovated. It was a cold night, and the wind whistled around the house.

This was not unusual; this was Dymchurch, a village right by the sea. The weather was always unpredictable. Most winters, you could go into the top bedroom and watch the sea break over the wall and run down the bank. It never breached the village, but it would one day, everyone was sure.

This cold November night was no different. Occasionally, the flames in the open fire would dim and then shoot up as the wind down the chimney played games. Laddie appeared oblivious to all this; he was happy to curl up on his blanket and chase rabbits in his dreams, gently kicking his legs.

Halfway through the meal, though, this would all change. Something alerted that old dog to another presence in the house because he went from sound asleep to up on all four paws guarding my parents.

He stood head forward, tail straight, looking at the bathroom and initiating a dull, low growl in his throat. "What is it, boy?" My dad asked him. Placing his hand on his neck, he said he could feel the electricity coursing through the dog. They attempted to laugh it off at first, but then things turned sinister, and no one laughed.

My dad opened the bathroom door to show the silly dog that no one was there. With that, like a runner hearing the starter's gun, the dog leapt into the bathroom, growling and snarling. In what seemed like an age but was only a minute, the dog returned from the bathroom, wagging his tail, completely calm. He looked at my parents and lay down with a huff, clearly pleased with himself because he had seen the paranormal visitor off.

The seasons changed, I grew up, and Laddie went over the rainbow bridge to be replaced by several other dogs, and nothing like this ever happened again. Mainly because the other occupants of our house chose to be more direct and play with us rather than the animals we lived with.

The Stone in the Lounge

No one could ever know whether these beings came from the stone in the lounge, but it seems likely that this was where their power came from. My dad certainly thought so after he had an encounter with the concrete block.

Over the years, my parents had been renovating the old cottage. Many years ago, there were two cottages; half was where the stone mason lived, and the other half was the coffin maker's home. It was clear that spirits had been within that house since it was built. Not just spirits of the paranormal kind but also the illegal kind, at least in the early days.

Smuggling was big business in Dymchurch and many of the neighbouring villages. The government, eager to pay for many a war, had increased the revenue on alcohol, tobacco and tea to a level that most people could no longer afford. Being so close to France, the marsh provided an easy route to hop over the channel and obtain cheaper liquor.

Many a night, fires would burn on the beach, and small ships would run ashore, unload their illegal cargo and disappear before the revenue soldiers caught up with them. They adopted many secret tunnels that ran below the surface to escape quickly. Barrels of liquor could easily be transported from the beach to the vicarage and onto the local Ship pub without ever coming above ground.

Our house was also a vital part of this network. My dad was convinced that the lounge's stone block held the tunnel's entrance. Especially when he hit it, and a hollow ring came back.

It is worth telling you here a little about my dad; he is a mountain of a man who, when he hugs you, encloses your whole body. He was also a builder, tough as nails, working in all weather. They don't make men like him anymore. This is my way of saying the man would never have been described as a wimp or coward.

So this weekend, he walked into the lounge with his hammer and chisel, moved the grate from the fire and decided it was time to remove the concrete slab and see what was under it whilst replacing it with something a little nicer to look at. He stuck the chisel into the concrete and swung the hammer, feeling the vibrations travel down his arm. On the second hit, he felt something very different from vibrations.

All he ever told us was that he felt a sensation like someone walking over his grave that felt nothing like someone walking over his grave. He instantly knew that someone did not want him to remove that slab.

As soon as he began, he stopped, picked up his tools, and left. He never attempted to move that slab for the next twenty years he lived there. There it sat as we grew up with a tiny dent in the centre where the first hit had happened.

Our Friends Upstairs

As my sister and I grew up, we always knew that the house had more than just our family living in it. To me, the house felt alive, as if it was looking after us. Sometimes, we walked through cold areas, but generally, the house was warm and inviting. I never believed we were in danger from the others who lived alongside us.

A common occurrence in our childhood was sitting downstairs with the family, dog curled up in front of us, watching television. The lounge was a vast open-plan room at the front of the house with a fireplace at each end.

We would sit at one end, and the other end was the dining room. Only ever used for Christmas and important guests, every day we went to the back room for dinner. The 'best' table became an area of wonder for us as children.

We often sneaked under it or sat in the chairs to see how it felt. It was a different time when some areas of the house and some of our outfits were kept for special occasions. The only time we were ever allowed near that table was for Christmas or when we were completing a puzzle with our mum. As a table used once a year, it was perfect for housing a giant puzzle that took weeks to complete.

Many evenings, as we sat in the lounge, we would hear people walking about upstairs. The house was an old cottage; the top and bottom floors were separated by a wooden floor suspended on beams you could view from the lounge. It was a good job we weren't the tallest of families as many a 6ft visitor would take their head out on the exposed beams.

It was easy to hear when people moved about upstairs. When my dad got home from work, he would have a shower; we could follow his footsteps along the hall and down the stairs, ready to have his hair put in bunches by my sister.

What made it strange when we heard the other family moving about upstairs was this could not be reasoned as anything other than what it was: ghosts walking the halls because all of us, including the dog, were sitting in the lounge together. Some sceptics have told me it must have been rats, but there were none and no floorboards for them to hide under. People were walking around on our top floor.

As kids, there were times that we tried to run upstairs to catch a shadowy figure moving, but we never saw anything. We were never scared; this was the security and safety the other family gave us.

As we grew older, we stopped racing upstairs and occasionally stopped even hearing the movement. If you listened, it was there, but it was white noise to us; just as we stopped hearing the wind whistling around the building on a winter night, we stopped hearing the movement of others. We became so used to it that it never registered.

Missing Jewellery

Going into my teenage years, I kept my haunted house to myself. Teenagers can be very cruel, and I was not prepared to be ridiculed or called a nutter when I told people I lived with a ghost family. Close friends I would confide in, but never those peers that sat on the outside of my social group.

One of my friends, though, could certainly back up my stories of hauntings because when she visited, the ghosts decided to play more than a little trick on her.

She had this beautiful charm bracelet that family members had added to over the years. I can't remember what we had been doing, possibly painting nails or something similar at fifteen. Whatever it was, she removed her jewellery, including the bracelet, and placed it on the everyday table. This was in the same room that Laddie had seen the bathing ghost.

As we finished what we were doing, she started putting her jewellery back on, but her charm bracelet was missing. Calling my mum to help, we searched that room in every corner. We searched the table, took the cloth off, shook it out, looked under all the chairs and moved all the furniture. After three hours of searching, the bracelet was still missing.

That was when my mum said, "Okay, that is enough; give us back the bracelet." I must admit even I looked at her like she may have been losing her sanity. She then said, "Let's look in the bin to see if it is there," which was weird because we had been nowhere near the rubbish, but hell, we had tried everywhere else, so why not?

Needless to say, it wasn't in the rubbish, but then I think my mum always knew this because ten minutes later when we sat back at the table completely out of options, there sat the charm bracelet in the centre of it where we could all see it. My mum knew we needed to leave the room for the bracelet to be returned.

"Always works," she said. "They are always hiding my things."

My friend needed to be told to shut her mouth at that point. You see, even as one of my closest friends, she never totally believed my stories about my haunted house; she was a complete believer after that day.


When I was seventeen, my dad, a builder, got caught in the recession, and the time came when we had to leave the house. I was devastated; truth be told, I still am. The last night in the house, I spoke to it with tears in my eyes. I promised that place I would buy it back one day. It is a promise I still hope to keep.

It was my childhood home with so many memories that forged my future. I don't think I would have ever written had I not lived there. In case you haven't guessed, this is not my attempt at a ghost story but my early life.

It wasn't just the memories that I was leaving; it was a house full of friendly spirits. Maybe there had been a few too many spirits on my last night in that house because as I went to sleep for the last time, I felt as if the house was hugging me goodbye.

I like to think that part of my heart and subconscious still wanders through those halls and rooms, along with the many paranormal beings. That house made my childhood so full of magic and wonder.

The Real Haunted House - Old Tree Cottage


About the Creator

Sam H Arnold

A writer obsessed with true crime, history and books. Find all my dedicated newsletters whether you are a true crime fan, bookworm or aspiring writer on Substack -

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  • Alex H Mittelman 8 months ago

    Very tenebrous! Very eldritch! Very eerie! Great work! And Gazoogabloga to you, good sir!

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