So, on Friday, for Mum's birthday treat, we ventured into deepest darkest East London for the Jack the Ripper tour. We got to Aldgate East station a little early, so we popped into the local pub, The White Hart, for a drink. It's funny, you instantly know which part of London you're in, people are totally cashing in on the whole Jack the Ripper thing. I think everywhere wants to claim some kind of spurious connection to the guy. This pub is rather proud of the fact that Ripper suspect, Severin Klosowski, worked as a barber in the cellar. We took one look at the creepy side-street running alongside the pub, and decided that was undoubtedly where our tour was going to take us.
We met up with our tour guide outside Aldgate East station at 7, and were not disappointed. We headed straight for the creepy side-street! It turns out, this is the very street where the second of the Whitechapel murders happened. The murder of Martha Tabram.
Next stop was the home of two more victims: Mary Ann Nichols and Elizabeth Stride
The common lodging house on Thrawl Street/Flower and Dean Street, a bit of a notorious criminal rookery, and the home of lots of prostitutes. It has since been demolished, but the frontage archway remains, moved over one street to form the entrance to a modern housing estate. The young kids living there looked quite excited about all the visitors standing outside their homes, and stood around listening to our guide. I'm not sure how much I'd want to know about the history of my home if I were them though!
Here's our tour guide, John Bennett, outside the temple in Spitalfields. To our relief, he was a local historian rather than any kind of *ACTOOR*, which meant that he was full of interesting knowledge, and he didn't appear to feel any urge to creep up on us and scare us like they do in the London Dungeons. Phew! I think the dark is plenty enough to make it atmospheric without that sort of thing!
Next stop: The Ten Bells - a very famous pub in Jack the Ripper history. It's been standing there since 1752, and the interior remains the same now as it was in the days of the Ripper, when it was patronised by the victims Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly. More recently, it has also been patronised by Johnny Depp whilst researching for the film 'From Hell'. How exciting! He drinks Guinness apparently. My goodness..
We toured around the backstreets to where Annie Chapman was murdered, in Hanbury Street, and then on to what used to be Dorset Street - now called White Church Lane, where Mary Kelly was found. I definitely felt sorry for the lady standing in the exact place where that horrendously mutilated body was found, it certainly was nice of our guide to point that out to her!
This is where the only piece of evidence ever categorically left by Jack the Ripper was found, just at the doorway where the white lattice pattern can be seen in the centre of the photo, on Goulston Street. A piece of fabric from Catherine Eddowes' clothing, coated in blood, was dropped right there. Right by 'Happy Days' chippy. Nice.
Finally, we made our way in to the City of London, for the final location: Mitre Street
This square may look nice and well lit now, but back then there were parts that were completely covered in darkness. Even with police patrols from all sides of the square, on high alert for a serial killer, nobody saw or heard Jack the Ripper murder Catherine Eddowes in there.
Looking at the map of where we walked, it's crazy to think that all that happened within a mile and a half area. All of it happened in such close proximity, and with everyone on the lookout for a murderer, it seems incredible that he got away with it. I think our tour guide must have been right, Jack the Ripper had all the luck. Either that, or he wound up in prison, or an asylum for something completely unrelated. Little did the police know who they had caught.
I would thoroughly recommend the tour, it's absolutely fascinating, and not all that creepy really!