Tower Hill Tube, meet by the Tower Hill Tram coffee stall | Map
He came silently out of the midnight shadows of August 31, 1888. Watching. Stalking. Butchering raddled, drink-sodden East End prostitutes. Leaving a trail of blood that led... nowhere. Yes, something wicked this way walked, for this is the Ripper's slashing grounds. We evoke that autumn of gaslight and fog, of menacing shadows and stealthy footsteps as we inspect the murder sites, sift through the evidence – in all its gory detail – and get to grips, so to speak, with the main suspects. Afterwards you can steady your nerves in The Ten Bells, the pub where the victims – perhaps under the steely gaze of the Ripper himself – tried to forget the waking nightmare. Guided on Monday and Tuesday by Molly; on Wednesday and Saturday by Steve; on Thursday by Shaughan or Adam; on Friday by Donald, Andy or Richard Walker; on Sunday by Donald. Donald is Donald Rumbelow, "internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper." Britain's foremost crime historian, he's the author of the definitive book on the Ripper.
The Jack the Ripper Walk takes place every single night* (except Dec. 24 and Dec. 25) at 7.30 pm from just outside the exit of Tower Hill Tube. Meet by the "Tower Hill Tram" coffee stand. The Ripper walk ends a short walk from two Tube Stops: Liverpool Street and Aldgate East. On Saturdays the walk takes place twice. In addition to the 7.30 pm walk there's a "matinee" at 3 pm. WARNING: Never part with your money until you're absolutely certain it's the bona fide London Walks guide you're handing it to. Look for the London Walks badge. Or the guide's blue badge. Or both. That's how you tell for sure. DON'T LET ANYONE PULL A FAST ONE ON YOU.
Why was the throat of the first victim, Polly Nichols, cut twice – when she was already dead? Why, when the second victim, Annie Chapman, was murdered, was the pocket of her apron almost torn off? For what reason were a number of personal items arranged neatly by her feet? Why, and for what reason, was Chapman's uterus ripped out of her body and taken away by the murderer? When Catherine Eddowes's mutilated body was found in a dark corner of Mitre Square, why was the inverted letter 'V' carved into each of her cheeks and what did it mean? Why were her nose, ears, lips and eyelids slashed? And why had her uterus and left kidney been cut out of her body and removed from the scene of the crime? What sense can we make of the cryptic message inscribed on a black brick door surround and a severed part of a bloody apron dropped? deposited? there? Why did the murderer appear to have no sexual interest in his victims? Why did the murders end with the inconceivably savage disfigurement of Mary Kelly?
"In 1888, the year of the sensational Whitechapel murders, male and female Londoners elected their first democratic city-wide government, the London County Council, and London got the world's first two-tier urban administration. J. B. Dunlop patented the pneumatic tyre, helping to transform cycling from an uncomfortable hobby for daredevils into a powerful force in popular leisure and transport, and preparing the way for efficient motoring. London's first halfpenny evening newspaper, the Star, was started, heralding the beginning of the age of mass circulation journalism. The first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, was published, and the Football League and the Lawn Tennis Association were founded. Charles Booth completed work on the first volume of his massive Life and Labour of the People in London, the first modern study of London's economic and social life. Annie Besant helped to organise the matchgirls' strike, a seminal event in the rise of modern unskilled trades unionism and the women's movement. A 14-storey apartment block, Queen Anne's Mansions, was built in Victoria, giving London (briefly) the tallest residential building in the world. Translations of three plays by Henrik Ibsen were published in London, introducing Londoners to social and sexual ideas which challenged the most cherished Victorian values."
WARNING: only read the next three paragraphs if you have a strong stomach. "It surpassed Dante's vision of hell. Not in his wildest imagination could the supreme mediaeval poet have dreamed up a scene of such horror. There was blood everywhere: on the bed, on the floor, on the walls, and even on the ceiling. Pieces of skin, flayed from the victimn's abdomen, and flesh from her thighs lay on a small bedside table; more skin and lumps of flesh, hacked from her arms and legs, were left on a larger table. Several feet of intestines and the young woman's spleen were strewn across the bed, where blood had soaked through the mattress and dripped silently into a widening, crimson pool on the floor. Her uterus, kidneys and one severed breast had been pushed under her head. The other breast lay beside her right foot. Her liver nestled between her feet on a coverlet caked in yet more blood. Her torso was torn open from her ribs to her private parts, her insides viciously ripped out. Her right arm was placed in such a way that her hand was pushed inside the now empty cavity of her belly. With her entire body hideously disfigured she resembled a slaughtered beast hanging on a butcher's hook rather than a human being, and certainly not a young, attractive woman.
"The stench of blood and gore was overwhelming – enough to make a person retch. The small room at number 13 Miller's Court was truly hell on earth.
"Anything else? Yes. The killer had taken something with him – Mary Kelly's heart."
It all comes down to the guiding. If you're not assessing you're guessing – buying a pig in a poke.
Preview the walk and the guiding – watch the video.
"London Walks has many copycats, but it's the best." Frommer's London by Night
"The original and best – there are several companies offering walking tours of London but London Walks (London's oldest) is easily the pick of the bunch" London, Cadogan Guide
"Led by the world’s leading expert on all things Jack the Ripper, Donald Rumbelow - and with glowing reviews from The New York Times and Time Out - this tour from London Walks is the definitive guide to one of history’s most fascinating unsolved mysteries. Starting at Tower Hill, the tour traverses some of London’s hidden alleyways and secret hideaways. With fascinating commentary on contemporary police conflicts, London Walks transports guests back to 1888, to the scene of the crimes..." Huffington Post
If you can't make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Jack the Ripper walks do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Jack the Ripper Walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We'll tailor it to your requirements. And – always with private London Walks and tours – we go to great lengths to make sure the guide-walker(s) "fit" is well nigh perfect.
OK, now a it of common sense on that last point.
Those seven words – it all comes down to the guiding – bear repeating. That's the iron law, whatever the makeup of the group. It can be a private walk for a couple of sophisticated adults – or a private walk for a "challenging" school group. Or anything in between. Whatever the group – it all comes down to the guiding.
Consider, by way of example, a "challenging" school group.
Think of that time-honoured adolescent combination of boredom, lethargy and free-floating belligerence. There, in a nutshell, is why it's important to get the right guide. You want a guide who can snap them out of that. Just like that. And keep them out of it. Some guides can do that. Some can't. It's a god-given talent that some guides have got and others don't have. You're booking a private walk for a school group you want a guide who's got that ability as part of their skill-set.
And that's why you come to us. It's in your interest to 1) get the right walk for your group and 2) get the right guide. The two sides of the same coin. It's in our interest to make sure that happens.
Whereas it's in the guide's interest to get the job/take the job – even if they're not right for it.
You book a private walk through us you eliminate the risk of getting a guide who's not right for your group. You eliminate that risk because your best interest is absolutely congruent with our best interest.
So there's lots of upside.* And no downside at all. Including cost. It doesn't cost more to go through us.
*In addition to the all-important guide-group "fit" there's the full panopoly of London Walks experience and back-up that you get. As well as being able to talk it over – explore the possibilities, draw on the unrivalled nous of "the walking tour specialists".
Ring Fiona or Noel or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they're good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing. Or indeed a fab present – be it a birthday or anniversary or get-to-know-your-new neighbourhood gift or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that's special. Memories make us rich.
"Nah, don't need it, got it all here," you say. Er, roaming charges? Er, dead battery? Er, reading your phone in the bathtub and you drop it? [Smelling salts interval: sick as a parrot. ashen-faced.] Er, read the famous white leaflet in the bathtub and you drop it what do you do? Er, you dry it out. Anyway, maybe worth making a mental note that you can always pick up the iconic white London Walks leaflet at the Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the old church in Trafalgfar Square. They're on the Information Table there, right by the box office. And indeed they also display them on the shop counter, right by the cash register. And it's win-win because the Cafe in the Crypt is one of the town's delights. Should be on everybody's London itinerary.