N.B. this walk will not take place on the following dates:
JACK THE RIPPER – IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE GUIDING
Don’t just take it from us…
“Very satisfied customer. Loved the experience. Stephen’s beautiful delivery only enhanced by the sheer horror of his description of the events of that terrifying moment in history. He successfully placed us in a time capsule and transported us to 1880’s London. Thoroughly recommended.” Dr Edmonds
He came silently out of the midnight shadows of August 31, 1888…
CSI. Crime Scene(s) Investigation. That is where the Jack the Ripper Tour goes and what it does. It is a recreation of – and an investigation into – the Autumn of Terror in the East End of London. We explore the alleyways and dark streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields. We go where something very bad happened. The Jack the Ripper Tour is dedicated to the Ripper’s victims – Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly.
Jack the Ripper – When and Where to meet
Meeting time: The Jack the Ripper Walking Tour takes place at 7.30 pm seven days a week.* On Saturdays, the Jack the Ripper walking tour takes place twice – at 3 pm and then again at 7.30 pm.
*Except December 24 and December 25. The Jack the Ripper walking tour does not take place on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
Meeting point: just outside the exit of Tower HillUnderground Station. Your guide – Andy, Molly, Oliver, Simon or Steve – waits for you by the Tower Hill Tram coffee stand, directly outside Tower Hill Underground Station.
Here’s a photograph of the meeting point
The bona fide London Walks guides for the Jack the Ripper Tour are easy to identify – they hold up copies of the famous white London Walks leaflet. Warning: don’t part with your money until you’re sure it’s the London Walks guide you’re handing it to.
Price: £15 per person (full adult); £10 for full-time students, over 65s and Loyalty Card holders; £5 for kids.
Where the Jack The Ripper tour starts – and why
The Jack the Ripper Tour begins at Tower Hill, right on the boundary between Scotland Yard territory and City of London Police territory. Only by beginning there can you understand the conflict between the two London police forces and their leading personalities. The conflict which blurred the investigation and made it easier for the Ripper to slip through the police nets.
“Only by starting at Tower Hill can you unlock the truth about the Jack the Ripper murders” Donald Rumbelow, author ofThe Complete Jack the Ripper
The chronological fit is perfect. The Tower of London was the focal point for the earliest stirrings* of the Autumn of Terror. Yes, the Tower of London has an important Jack the Ripper connection! But over and above that, the Tower is a stunning backdrop for the start of the Jack the Ripper Tour. There’s more history concentrated in that 900-year-old fortress and castle than anywhere else in London. Which is why the Tower of London heads up every visitor’s “Must See” London Checklist. And if the Tower of London is a priceless gemstone, its settings – the Thames, Tower Bridge, Tower Hill and those two magnificent sections of the old London Wall – could have been made to order.
*the line-ups of soldiers that were held there in early August (1888)
The image is by the wonderfully gifted Benjamin Goutte
Where we go – the East End was the true Ripper
The Jack the Ripper Walk. It’s both where we go and where it takes us. Where we go is the route. Where it takes us is “where the guiding takes us.” Brilliant, inspired guiding is the secret sauce. It goes without saying that you’re paying to be taken to the right places. And paying for factual accuracy. But that’s just basic Jack the Ripper – Jack the Ripper 101. Where a great guide “takes you” goes way beyond that. And don’t kid yourself, you only get it with a great guide.
Just over that threshold is the intimacy and darkness that was part and parcel of the Jack the Ripper murders. It’s still there in the nooks and crannies and alleyways we go to. Karl Marx said “the past lies like a nightmare upon the present.” What happened in 1888 in the darkness of those foul, malodorous East End alleyways is a nightmare all right. But it’s not a nightmare that’s lying upon the present. It’s lying under the present. And that’s why it all comes down to the guiding. An experienced, gifted, pitch-perfect guide is able to get at the nightmare that’s under the present, able to conjure it up. It’s reaching beyond fact – beyond the paint-by-numbers “correct” route – to the lingering spirit or atmosphere of Jack the Ripper’s London.
The DNA of incomparable violence and depravity is still there, under the present, but it has to be summoned up, conjured. The alleyways that carry that DNA are the dark accomplices of those sudden and brutal killings. The streets and houses of the neighbourhood merge with the murders themselves, they become identified with them. They almost seem to share the guilt. Think of Ripperologist Colin Wilson citing the ‘secrets’ of a room in the Ten Bells, the Jack the Ripper pub where we end. A great guide who can access – and communicate – those fearful visions of the night makes a compelling case that the very streets, the walls and interiors that seem to malinger, were the killer’s confessional.
Yes, where we’re going – where we “take you” – the Inferno, the city of the damned – the East End of the Autumn of Terror – it’s the true Ripper.
Setting out to explore the Victorian East End
And so the Jack the Ripper Tour gets underway. A walking tour bound for London by gaslight, the East End, Whitechapel, the 19th-century and Victorian London, for crime scenes and those alleyways and the trail of the infamous serial killer. Two minutes into it you’re thinking, “oh yes, we made the right choice, this is how it should be.” You’re thinking that because already we’ve gone off-piste, stepped into a vaulted hideaway where the grim old London Wall rears up directly before us. A hideaway so dark and still you can hear people breathing, a place where the clock seems permanently turned back to 1888, back to the Autumn of Terror. It’s another epiphany moment. A reaches the parts other tours can’t moment. A reminder of what a high-quality walking tour can do – of the huge difference an elite, professionally qualified tour guide can make.
Setting the scene in Jack the Ripper’s London
The perfect place to set the scene. The social background. The tale of two cities – two Londons. The fabulously wealthy West End and its dark shadow, the East End of London. The London we’re exploring tonight. Victorian Whitechapel and Spitalfields. The cauldron of the “people of the abyss.” The worst slum in Europe. A behavioural sink of grinding poverty, crime and disease. A place where death was ever-present. A place where women were subjected to regular Saturday-night beatings, driven into prostitution, were cheap labour in sweatshops (or, if they were exceptionally lucky, overworked as domestic servants in middle-class households). Which brings us again to Jack the Ripper’s unfortunate victims. “They were never ‘just prostitutes’; they were daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and lovers. They were women. They were human beings.”
Setting forth through alleyways
And then it’s “let’s go this way – follow me.” Follow me through a centuries-old hole in the London Wall! (“Dear Mom & Dad, how cool is this – I walked right through the London Wall tonight.”) Through the wall – it’s like finding a way out of a hutch – we zig and zag along a single file alleyway. Emerge into a back street. A back street “under the arches.” Whoa! Another atmospheric – dingy if truth be told – staging post. And that, by the way, is the secret recipe. Jack the Ripper’s London is still there. In places – yes, original locations. But when we don’t have original locations we find atmospheric backdrops to unfold the story. That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why you go with a topflight guide.
Like Police Constable Watkins on his beat
Setting foot in a Victorian murder site
We make our way up deserted streets to “the prostitute’s church.” Taking readings as we go. Orienting. Explaining the layout, the distances, the timing. Mapping the neighbourhood. Getting the pieces on the board and starting to fit them together. Getting the urban geography right. And the psychogeography – contexting the murder sites. “It was along there that Polly Nichols, the first victim, was last seen alive…there’s a connection here with a principal suspect…the Ripper will have come along this way from the Socialists’ Club in Berner Street, where Liz Stride was murdered….Like Police Constable Watkins 881 City at 1.45 am on September 30 we’re now in Mitre Square. The PC flashes his light into a corner and… (as he said) “I never saw such a sight.” Welcome to the ghastly culmination of “the double event.”
Into the abyss of a lawless murder mystery
Mitre Square is in the City. City of London Police territory. The other four Ripper murders took place in Whitechapel, in the East End of London. In Scotland Yard territory. Even today you know you’ve crossed a border when you walk across Middlesex Street (Petticoat Lane). You leave the fabulously wealthy City of London and enter edgier, down-trodden, dingier Whitechapel. The East End of London. Here we circle, close with, engage and move on. Move on to another encounter. And another. And so on. Goulston Street, where he scrawled the message and left a blood-stained piece of Catherine Eddowes’ apron. Two deeply creepy alleyways. Tired, hard-scrabble Victorian architecture. Christ Church, Itchy Park, Spitalfields Market, the Night Shelter, the “Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor”, the old Sandys Row synagogue, etc.
The whirlpool sucks us in…
We end where it ended. In 1888 it was known as “the worst street in London.” Where the fifth, the last, the most terrible murder took place. The only one that took place indoors. Jack the Ripper had time. He had privacy. He turned that little room into an abattoir. After that orgy of bloodlust, he walked out into the night… and into history.
Après the Jack the Ripper walk
We began at the best possible place to begin. We end at the best possible place to end. And not just because we’re at Miller’s Court, where the last, most hideous murder took place. Ending there you’re perfectly placed for getting home by public transport (or getting a taxi). Aldgate, Aldgate East, Bishopsgate* and Liverpool Street stations are all very close by. If you’re hungry, the best curry houses in London are just a stone’s throw away, in Brick Lane. If you’re thirsty, The Ten Bells pub – the period, atmospheric “Jack the Ripper Pub” – is right there, opposite Spitalfields Market. Mary Kelly, the fifth victim, had her “pitch” right outside The Ten Bells. Indeed, she drank there the night she was murdered.
*Your guide will be happy to walk you back to Bishopsgate station (going that way the walk “continues” because you’ll see the old police station and the world-famous Dirty Dick’s pub).
Jack the Ripper Coda
The Jack the Ripper murders ushered in the earliest use of police photographs recording ‘the crime scene.’
Meet your guides
“If this were a golf tournament every name on the Leader Board would be a London Walks guide.”
This video features the supremely gifted Royal Shakespeare Company actor Steve.
And here’s Simon Law, whose Jack the Ripper walk has earned nearly 200 five-star reviews.
Only at London Walks do you get guides of this calibre.
*He who sailed a 25-foot-boat across the Pacific Ocean.
The tour’s creator
This is the London Walks Jack the Ripper Walk – The Jack the Ripper Walk. The Ripper walk created, directed, curated, mentored and for many years guided by the world’s leading authority on Jack the Ripper.Yes, Donald Rumbelow, Britain’s most distinguished crime historian – is on the London Walks team. Britain’s most distinguished crime historian, Don is the author of the definitive book on Jack the Ripper. The former Curator of the Police Crime Museum, Don’s been the chief consultant for every major film and television programme on Jack the Ripper for the past 30 years. “I patrolled Mitre Square when it was still gaslit”Donald Rumbelow.
*Jack the Ripper – Scotland Yard Investigates is co-authored by Donald Rumbelow and Stewart Evans (“Drawing on their unparallel knowledge of the Jack the Ripper murders and their professional experience as police officers, the two doyens of serious Ripper writing join forces for the first time to write the definitive book on the case from the perspective of the police investigation. As the title declares, this is the complete investigation and is full of new insights and information on the murders and who might have committed them.”)
“I’ve done the Jack the Ripper walk with London Walks twice now and really recommend this above all others. The guides are experts, they are interesting, great value, and each guide has different theories and interest areas, making it well worth visiting more than once! As a tourist, I was overwhelmed by the number of Jack the Ripper tours on offer, and was checking out the brochures when this one was recommended to me. I was told “don’t go to any other: this is the best” and I must say I agree!”
– Sarah A. (Google Reviews, Aug 2020)
“I went on the Jack the Ripper walking tour recently and enjoyed it very much. One of the best parts of the tour was how the guide discussed the historical significance of the murders and facts as they are known today. You really got a sense of who the victims were and the poor circumstances that surrounded Whitechapel. We walked to a couple of the locations where the murders occurred and while each location looked nothing like what was it was back then our guide gave us very detailed portrayals of what had transpired at each incident. I thought it was very engaging and enjoyed the walk around parts of the City of London and Whitechapel.”
– George L (Tripadvisor, Sep 2019)
FINALLY, CAVEAT EMPTOR
You buying that?
What you get
We are London Walks. That means you get a professional, high quality, premium guided tour. It means you get the must-see alleyway. It means you get accurate information.
What you do not get
You do not get a comically unprepared guide. You do not get a bait-and-switch – the moth of free turning into the larva of payment. You do not get taken for a mug – we do not use the word ‘free’ as a lure to hook you into an extractive operation. You do not get a route that manages to miss the one supremely evocative and atmospheric alleyway in the neighbourhood. You do not get told any number of howlers. For example, ‘locating’ a Ripper crime scene 1.5 miles from the street where the murder actually took place.
LONDON WALKS PRIVATE WALKS
If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, Jack the Ripper Walking Tour it can always be booked as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Jack the Ripper Walking Tour walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] 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.
GIVE THE GIFT OF LONDON WALKS
A private London Walk makes a fab gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.