My Sunshiny Life

{December 1, 2009}   Jack the Ripper Tour in the East End









A cold dark winter night is the perfect time to skulk around the cobbled alley ways of London’s infamous East End.  Not by yourself obviously, that would be weird.  We joined our guide on the Jack the Ripper Walk and stepped back in time, to a dirty, grim East End.  Actually even with the East End being an up and coming area, it’s still dirty and grim, just a bit more expensive.

But we’re now imagining ourselves walking the streets that Jack walked over 120 years ago.  Times were tough, with unemployment figures levels high and crime rates even higher.  With no other means to support themselves, back in the days before women’s rights, some women had to make the choice between starvation and prostitution.  The going rate was 4 pence, which was also the price of a bed in a doss house.  Most women in this dire position were also alcoholics, spending their 4 pence before they got their bed for the night and being out until all hours trying to make some more money.

 The conditions were ripe for a serial killer, able to take advantage of vulnerable women, in a badly lit and crime ridden area.  Although he did have a lot of luck on his side to get away with as many killings as he did.  He is credited with five killings, but there are eleven Whitechapel murders that could be attributed to him.  The murders were brutal, with entrails tossed over the victim’s shoulder and in some cases organs were removed.  Faces and torsos were slashed and some victims could hardly be identified.  There are many theories about who he is, with a doctor (due to the organs being removed so capably), a midwife (who else could get away with walking around at all hours covered in blood) and even a member of the royal family. 

 We wandered around for two hours in the freezing cold, engrossed by the gory but intriguing tale that our storyteller spun.  I’m not sure why the world is still fascinated by these unsolved murders, but over 120 years later there were about 200 likeminded people traipsing around Whitechapel in different tour groups, imagining the unimaginable.

 The tour guide we had was John and he is an avid historian, not just with Jack the Ripper, but the whole East End. He is a wealth of knowledge and most entertaining.  I’ve done another tour before but it wasn’t that good – you really need a good tour guide.  I highly recommend Jack the Ripper walks for a spine tingling experience.

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