The Jack the Ripper Walk www.jacktheripperwalk.com
The Jack the Ripper Tour takes place every* night at 7.30 pm. Meet just outside the exit of Tower HillTube.
And please do take heed of The New York Times' warning: "be careful about the Ripper tour, however, since there are imitations..."
*Except Dec. 24/25. N.B. on Saturdays there's also a "matinee". I.E. on Saturdays the walk takes place at 3 pm and then again at 7.30 pm.
Or in Frommer's* words:
"London Walks has many copycats, but it's the best."
Or if you prefer – and, yes, why not repeat it – The New York Times' call: "be careful about the Ripper tour, however, since there are imitations...look for [the] one guided by Donald, who is Donald Rumbelow, the author of The Complete Jack the Ripper and a former curator of the notoriously grisly City of London Police Black Museum (a crime museum open by appointment only), credentials that are scary in themselves." And perhaps even scarier, this: Don's got what is believed to be Jack the Ripper's knife! Ok, Summer 2014 update – Don's going to be out of action for a while this summer. Minor medical thing but it will take a while. When he's healed up, cleared to go, etc. etc. he'll be right back in his regular slots. As always, we'll put up the "Don Calendar"of dates that he's scheduled to guide the walk as soon as he gets the go-ahead. So watch this space.
But don't just take it from us – or the New York Times (and Time Out and every major guidebook) – now you can judge for yourself. You've got the films. And here's some audio, "a grab" from the walk. And here's another one. Together, they gave you quite a bit of the flavour of the walk. Update: a third one has just gone up over at www.jacktheripperwalk.com – but, be warned, if you're squeamish you should give it a miss.
Other than that, here's all you need to know:
The Jack the Ripper Walk goes every night (except Dec. 24 & 25)
at 7.30 pm from Tower HillTube. And it also runs Saturday afternoons at 3 pm.
The world's leading expert on Jack the Ripper – Donald Rumbelow – guides the walk on Sunday nights and alternate Friday nights (but do see the note up above about his having some time off this summer ). (And you're in equally good hands the rest of the week! See below.)
Huh? Yes, you read right. Our Ripper walk is guided on those nights** by Britain's most distinguished crime historian, Donald Rumbelow, who is, as the Jack the Ripper A to Z puts it, "internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper." Don's the author of the definitive book on the subject, The Complete Jack the Ripper. And you know something, he's still closing with the Ripper. Chapter and verse: his book of a couple of years ago (jointly authored with Stuart Evans), Jack the Ripper: Scotland Yard Investigates, connected still more of the dots. And – headliner, top-of-the-marquee news this – Don's just brought out a major new updated and revised edition of the biggie: The Complete Jack the Ripper. In short, the definitive book on the Ripper just got better. And get this: it comes with a warning. In Don's words, "it's going to be very controversial." There's game-changer stuff in it. Hot off the press all of this – because the book's just out. Now. May, 2013.
Don's been the chief consultant for every major film and television treatment of the Ripper for the past 25 years. He's the former Curator of the Police Crime Museum. He's the former Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association. He took Johnny Deep over the Ripper's slashing ground as part of the Hollywood star's preparation for the film, From Hell..., etc. etc., etc.
Not to put too fine a point on it, if anybody nails the Ripper, it'll be Donald Rumbelow. And what's also very much to the point here, Don's not some dry-as-dust academic. He's a former City of London Police Sergeant who pursued a dual career as a crime historian. Which means, if you think about it, that you're taken over some of the most famous crime scenes in the world by a law enforcement professional - a law enforcement professional who just happens to be the world's leading expert on those five murders! Can't be bad.
*Frommer's and everybody else – i.e., Fodor's, The New York Times, Time Out, Let's Go, the Toronto Globe & Mail, the Berkeley Guide, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Cadogan Guide, The London Guide, Travel & Enjoy, "Best of the Net", London, etc. etc.
And right on cue (given what "Frommer's and everybody else" say)...a few words about Don's colleagues. And first things first. He's primus inter pares, needless to say. But there's no falling off on other nights (or indeed on Saturday afternoon). It's the A-team that's out there, in every instance. They're of course different – which is as it should be. Different guides bring different "skill sets" to walks. A gifted actor, for example, can do things voice-wise, performance-wise that those of us who aren't actors can't do. In short, be it a Donald night or a not-Donald night, you're in superb hands.
And again, don't just take it from us. Here's how Bill Harris from Pinehurst, North Carolina put in a recent email: 'We've been doing this a very long time (spring break in London), having taken a large number of totally different walks -- and we wouldn't think about walking with anyone else.
"One example -- for years we did the Rumblelow Jack the Ripper thing -- and the students loved it. Last year we did Nick and this year, Andy. Both years we figured that something would be lost, not joining the expert. Not so -- these two were not Rumblelow, but they were equal to him, with a slightly different take on the matter. Both were excellent -- and students, this year and last, having never walked with Rumblelow, never knew the difference. Nor did we -- which is to say, nothing was lost. You have a terrific thing here."
And that's the cue for a further word about "the 'not Rumbelows'". In no particular order (this will take a while – there are about fifteen of them, so I'm going to have to peck away at it – it can't be done in a single sitting). And let's do it pop-upperly!
First off, A is for Adam. Well, A+. Guiding, er, knives don't come any sharper. Extremely switched-on journalist. Writes like a dream. And since guiding's all about the words – your command of them, the way you can put them together... well, you'll get my drift. Oh and for good measure, he's read everything! And he's fun. And funny. And genial. And principled. One of life's good guys. In that nailed it journalist's summing up, "if this were a golf tournament every name on the leader board would be a London Walks guide." – Adam's is one of those names. In the little matter of the race – to mix my metaphors – that leader board speaks volumes about London Walks vis-a-vis its competitors. Guides of Adam's (and Donald's and Shaughan's, and their colleagues') calibre are beyond the wildest dreams of the wannabees!
And just like that we come to Steve, who guides the London Walks Jack the Ripper Walk on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. As I say in the little profile about him – a click here takes you to it – he daredevils the walk – it's guiding without a safety net. And because it is, it's very compelling indeed. But hey, how could it be otherwise? Compelling is where daredevilry takes you. Pronto.
And as for Shaughan... And, hey, you'll recognise him, too – Love Actually, The Rocky Horror Show, etc. – the list goes on and on. And you don't need to take our word for it – take a walker's. He's talking about Shaughan's Ghosts of the Old City walk, but the general tenor of what he has to say holds good for Shaughan's guiding whether it's Ghosties or Little Venice or Jack the Ripper or whatever. Here it is.
Now let's turn to Molly – the badge on her Jack the Ripper cap just might be the shiniest one of all! Now by all means, do read on!
And how does dark, handsome, John Lennon-witty, edgy, dangerous, ferociously intelligent – worked with Woody Allen, etc. – grab you? Which is by way of introducing Stephen....
Yeah, bears repeating what the journo said: "If this were a golf tournament every single name on the Leader Board would be a London Walks guide". Which is by way of introducing Simon. And don't just take it from us – here's an example of the kind of feedback about Simon that is, er, par for the course.* Read it and you won't be in any doubt whatsoever about why he's one of the brightest stars in the London Walks constellation. And that's saying something! But why not let Simon say something! Here he is, raising the curtain on his Ripper Walk! *There's of course an even more telling form of "feedback". It's this. Simon does a lot of "private walks" – for school parties, student groups, office outings, etc. And – how should I put this? – once they've been with Simon they always go with Simon. I.E., next year and the year after and the year after – on and on – they keep coming back and it's always – always – "we'd like Simon again for this year's group".
**Subject of course to Don's not coming down with the flu – or being on holiday – or being the Guest of Honour at some big American Ripper convention! We post Don's CSI dates – the dates he's down to do the Ripper walk – here.
And by all means do drop by our dedicated Jack the Ripper site: www.jacktheripperwalk.com
And this is pretty neat: Adam's made a handy little video to help out anybody who's arrived late for the walk. It's called The Jack the Ripper Catch Up Film. If you arrive late and the walk's moved off, well, just get your cell phone out, bring up this page and click here and hey presto you'll be able to catch us up.
Finally, for a couple of quick pictorials, click here.
Well, not quite finally. Here's "finally" – it's another short film, one that should be of considerable interest to educators in particular.