Following Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel

Following Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel

We were determined to only follow in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper guided by Russell Edwards, author of the best-selling book “Naming Jack the Ripper”*. If we were to get deeper inside the story, we might as well be accompanied by an expert. However, in the day we reserved to visit Whitechapel, in London’s East End, we were so bored by another borough struck by gentrification that we decided to take our own self-guided tour. Maybe it was just the “theme” of our expedition getting the best of us, but in most of the places all we could hear was dead silence, even in a busy weekday morning.

Following Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel

Because, you know, Jack the Clipper…

We didn’t follow a chronological path when scouting for the locations, we basically just started from the spot that was closest to the Aldgate Tube Station (and that was Mitre Square). However, on the post, I’m organising them according to the timeline. And, as you will see in the photos, we walked on Jack the Ripper’s footsteps (pause for dramatic effect) on a very bright and sunny morning – it kind of lightens up the mood… kind of. We are not attracted to the Ripper for obscure reasons, but we are fascinated by the amount of theories and stories that can be generated around the unknown serial killer. Even today, the locations are still small lanes or back alleys completely hidden from the main streets. One of the strangest effects I felt was that every time we turned from the main street to reach a spot, the whole city would be immediately muffled. Almost no sound, close to deserted, as if the world had disappeared (or we had disappeared from the world). When we reached the Ten Bells, the pub where he (allegedly) and his victims hung out, I confess I kind of felt a strange sense of relief when we got there.

Ten Bells Pub | Following Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel

Ten Bells Pub

In total, it is assumed that there are seven Jack the Ripper victims. We visited four of the seven locations, including two of where the “canonical five” (the ones who are believed to be the only victims of Jack the Ripper) were murdered: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly.

1. Osborn Street

Osborn Street | Following Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel

Osborn Street

Emma Elizabeth Smith – April 3rd, 1888. The first of the “Whitechapel murders”, as the series of crimes was known by the Metropolitan Police before. Usually linked to gang violence, not to Jack the Ripper. From all the locations, this was the only one where I felt “at peace”.

2. Gunthorpe Street

Gunthorpe Street | Following Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel

Gunthorpe Street

Martha Tabram – August 7th, 1888. This is where the second victim was found and, coincidentally, it was also the second spot on our self-guided tour. Martha is believed to be the Ripper’s first victim. This was one of those alleys where the whole city “disappeared” once we turned. Very, very strange. I actually felt almost entrapped (which is odd, because as I said before we did this in broad daylight), and after a couple of shots I didn’t even feel like photographing it anymore, I just couldn’t wait to leave.

3. Hanbury Street

Hanbury Street | Following Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel

Hanbury Street

Annie Chapman – September 8th, 1888. The second victim of the “canonical five” and our third stop. I confess I felt nothing about this place; it’s just a bland corner in a street with hipster stores. I admit I’m a bit fed up with the hipster culture at the moment, but maybe we’ll return to this topic sometime.

4. Mitre Square

Mitre Square | Following Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel

Mitre Square

Catherine Eddowes – September 30th, 1888. The fourth victim of the “canonical five” and our first stop. Eddowe’s shawl (taken from the crime scene) was the key for Russell Edwards to identify “Jack the Ripper” as Aaron Kosminski. Whether he’s cracked the case or not, his book is an interesting read (and it will probably keep you up at night). This is where we started from (it’s very close to the Aldgate Tube Station) and I felt the place looked cool and secluded, but something felt off. Yes, maybe I was carried away by the “murder location” atmosphere, but right here, in this particular spot, I remember thinking something was off.

Sign at the White Hart Pub, Gunthorpe Street | Following Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel

Sign at the White Hart Pub, Gunthorpe Street

Have you done any Jack the Ripper walking tour? What was your experience like? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter. If you’re not much of a talker, follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for your daily dose of travel inspiration.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
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      It does but it’s a fascinating part of London’s History that we were always curious about! One day I will take the tour with the guy who wrote the book because I’m sure he’ll be able to fill in a lot of gaps. But, believe it or not, in some of the spots you do feel a weird energy and most of the places are still hidden from sight, so you kind of realise how easy it was for him to get away with it.

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