Visiting the murder locations of 4 victims of Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel
We wanted to take the tour of Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel with Russell Edwards, author of the book “Naming Jack the Ripper.” If we were to get deeper inside the story, we might as well be accompanied by an expert.
However, on the day we saved to visit Whitechapel, in London’s East End, we were so bored by another district 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 on a busy weekday morning.
We didn’t follow a chronological path when scouting for the locations. We basically just started from the spot closest to the Aldgate Tube Station (and that was Mitre Square).
However, on the post, I’m organizing the locations according to the timeline of the murders. 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… sort of.
We aren’t attracted to the Ripper for obscure reasons, but we’re fascinated by the number of theories and stories generated by the unknown serial killer.
One of the strangest effects I felt was that every time we turned from the main street to reach one of the locations, the whole city would be immediately muffled. Silent and deserted, it was as if the world had disappeared (or we had disappeared from the world).
When we reached the Ten Bells, the pub where (allegedly) Jack the Ripper and his victims hung out, I confess I kind of felt a strange sense of relief.
In total, it’s assumed that there are seven Jack the Ripper victims. We visited four of the seven locations, including where two of 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
Emma Elizabeth Smith, murdered on 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
Martha Tabram, murdered on 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 we did this in broad daylight). After a couple of shots, I didn’t even feel like photographing it anymore. I just couldn’t wait to leave.
3. Hanbury Street
Annie Chapman, murdered on September 8th, 1888.
The murder location of the second victim of the “canonical five” was our third stop. I confess I felt nothing about this place; it’s just a bland corner in the street with hipster stores.
I admit I’m a bit fed up with the hipster culture now, but maybe we’ll return to this topic sometime.
4. Mitre Square
Catherine Eddowes, murdered on September 30th, 1888.
The murder location of the fourth victim of the “canonical five” was our first stop.
Eddowe’s shawl (taken from the crime scene) was the key for Russell Edwards to allegedly identify “Jack the Ripper” as Aaron Kosminski. Whether he’s cracked the case or not, his book is a fascinating 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 calm and secluded, but something felt off.
Yes, maybe I was carried away by the “murder location” atmosphere. Still, right here, in this particular spot, I remember thinking something was off.