Jack the Ripper: A walk through Whitechapel’s “Ripper” streetsJack the Ripper: A walk through Whitechapel’s “Ripper” streets

A Walk beyond Time and Place

The Whitechapel murders in the “autumn of terror” 1888 have fascinated people ever since. A walk through the streets in which these events occurred allow us to get a glimpse into a bygone era that still feels very present today and is the best starting point to travel in any direction in London’s time and space. This walk will lead you through the area of the Ripper and his victims. Deep into the heart of darkness, into the abyss and along “Ripper” street…

Jack the Ripper is the name given to an undiscovered murderer of five women (or less – or more – depending on who you ask) in London in 1888. The so-called “canonical five” are Mary-Ann “Polly” Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. They were murdered in London’s East End, mainly in the district of Whitechapel. This was an area where most of its population lived below the poverty line and where prostitution and crime were part of everyday life. For a murderer like the Ripper this was the perfect place to commit a series of disturbing murders and never get caught.

Christ Church, Spitalfields
Christ Church, Spitalfields

Fascination with Jack the Ripper

There is an ongoing fascination for the case that keeps inspiring many amateur investigators called “Ripperologists“. It should be made clear that the fascination is not about the crimes themselves. What the murderer did was gruesome and terrible. It is the whole mystery of the case, along with the time and place it occurred. The more you try to find out about the Ripper murders, the more you see paths along the main road that lead into other interesting directions.

Once you take a route, you may find it hard to not get lost on your way, as many more sideways open up from there. The interest in the case produced fiction dealing with the Ripper. Movies, series, and books invite you to take every direction you want. Be it a certain suspect or a certain area of special interest. It is all there. And you will find out all about it on our walk.

So follow me now into the Ripper’s East End…

THE PLAYWRIGHT AND THE KILLER by Philipp Röttgers in Ripperologist no. 144

The tour

Start: Aldgate East Station

End: Spitalfields Market

Duration: 2 h

Philipp’s walk beyond time and place will lead you to the Jack the Ripper murder sites in the East End. It is still a busy and sometimes rough area, but the side streets are often empty. Here, one still gets a very good glimpse in how the area and the atmosphere in 1888 must have been like. The tour starts at the Aldgate East Station. From there Philipp will lead you to the archway next to the “White Hart Pub”. Here we enter an alleyway that will lead us right back in time. For in this street with cobblestones, Martha Tabram, a prostitute, was murdered on the the 8 August 1888.

Some believe Martha to be an early victim of the Ripper. However, the next death would be the actual beginning of the Jack the Ripper Saga. The first acknowledged victim, Mary Ann Nichols, was murdered a few weeks later, on 31 August 1888. Philipp will lead you through the backstreets behind Brick Lane. Here, Mary Ann Nichols tried to get into a lodging house on the night of her murder, but was refused because she had spent her little money on drink.

A focus on the living conditions and the women’s lives

By now you as a group will be terrified and gripped by the tales and the stories of how the murders evolved, how the East End realized that a serial killer was on the loose, how clueless the police was and how the press became involved and turned the murderer into a legendary figure. Brick Lane is now famous for its many Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants (as you will see on the tour). But while leading you through the adjoining streets that have not changed much since the days of the Ripper, Philipp will explain a lot about the living conditions in the area and tell you about the lives of the victims and how they ended up in this part of London.

And then you will come out opposite Spitalfields Market. You are standing right between Christ Church, Spitalfields, and The Ten Bells Pub, where some of the Ripper victims used to drink. Christ Church is the geographical “centre” of all the Ripper murders. Everyone of his victims would have looked up at its spire everyday.

We will walk the exact same route as Jack the Ripper

From there, Philipp will lead you across the “border” to Mitre Square, the site of the only murder in the City of London. But not only that, from there he and you will trace the exact steps of the Ripper back into the East End. We know this route because we will come to the house where he left a message that baffled the investigators.

And then we will finish the tour at the site of the last and most gruesome murders of all, that of Mary Kelly in Miller’s Court. From then on it is your decision. Do you feel safe enough to walk through the night until you reach the comfort of your own home? Or would you join Philipp for a pint in the Ten Bells pub and discuss the gruesome crimes and who the Ripper might have been…

Is this tour running?

Check for the current schedule here:

This tour is currently only presented virtually. Dates will follow.

If you have questions about the tour or want to get in touch with us, you can do it via the contact form (in the side bar) or here!

This is a “Walks beyond Time and Place” tour.

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