If you find London a little bit spooky sometimes, best stop reading now.
Our great capital, The Old Smoke, is full of tales and mysteries that ebb on in the darkness, only coming alive again when retold a thousand different ways by a thousand different mouths. One story however, stays very much the same. A mysterious killer with a penchant for grizzly mutilation and women of the night. A man that evaded capture and became a legend that would still live on to this day. I am of course talking about London’s most famous murderer, Jack the Ripper.
With more than trepidation, Kasha and I met our guide to embark a Jack the Ripper Tour that bills itself as ‘The Original Terror Tour’.
Our steadfast guide for the evening was Richard Jones, a historian, author and the foremost authority in England on all things Jack the Ripper. Beginning in Aldgate East, we are transported back into 1888, and a world unlike the East London we had ever known. A world where prostitutes roamed the streets to earn the ‘doss money’ for a good night’s sleep, antisemitism bubbled beneath the surface and violence lurked around every corner.
The gentrified East London we know today starkly contrasts to the intense poverty of London in the late 19th century, something Richard captures so well as we wander around Brick Lane. We stop at various points, where the Ripper story begins to unfold. A scream of murder, a feeling of terror and an incompetent police force all paint a vivid picture of the panic the killer must have created once the murders began.
What this tour does in no uncertain way is tell you not so much who the famous murderer was, but about the effect the murders had on the East London community at the time. While there are gruesome moments that many will enjoy (note: some of the photos are quite graphic) one of the most fascinating elements of the tour is learning all about the incomprehensible blunders of the police. At each stage, the police destroy evidence, cover up little details or neglecting to take photographs – all because of the fear of an uprising from the downtrodden masses.
We go from site to site, following the small area where the killer himself must have once stalked his prey, and where he finally performed each dark deed. We learn about the theories surrounding him, and learn the true meaning of his infamous name.
It is these legends that surround this story have helped to immortalise a top hat wearing serial killer in our imaginations and nightmares to this day. The gripping story of these awful murders in 1888 and the mystery that surrounds their end will forever captivate the world.
Our guide Richard was easily one of the most knowledgeable Ripper guides in the world, a source who has helped with the historical accuracy of numerous Hollywood movies including Johnny Depp’s From Hell.
As you wander past spots like the teeming Ten Bells pub which the killer allegedly patronised you will undoubtedly imagine yourself walking in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper himself, a thought which will send a shiver down your spine. I loved this tour, and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for something that will frighten and fascinate you in equal measure. With tours running for just £10, it also makes a great value evening out and a gruesome story to tell.
We were invited to join this tour by the lovely people of the Jack the Ripper Tour but as always, opinions expressed are my own.
If this doesn’t scare you one little bit, why not check out my experience spending an evening locked up behind bars in Kings Cross?