The Autumn of Terror

April 16th, 2009 | Posted in General

The famous Mitre Square
Mitre Square, site of the Catherine Eddows murder

Yesterday The Lovely Anna played along and accompanied me on a “Jack the Ripper” walk through the Whitechapel area of London. Being somewhat of a “Ripperologist” I was looking forward to seeing the actual sites of the murders and walking the same streets where once walked the Ripper, his victims and those who sought to stop him. We were also accompanied by caricaturist Steve Hearn and his wife Wendy. Steve in fact had spent the day driving us to and touring with us Windsor Castle. Wonderful people.

The tour was very entertaining and I highly recommend a guided walking tour of London by the company “London Walks” if you ever chance to visit. It’s much more personal to see the sites from the ground as opposed to some bus, and the guides know their stuff.

Original street cobblestones
These are the sames cobblestones once stained with Catherine Eddows’ blood
where her body was found. Eddows was the Ripper’s fourth “official” victim.

The Ripper tour guide was knowledgeable, funny and thorough. Unfortunately… and I was prepared for this, very few of the critical sites are still anything like they were in the autumn of 1888 when the Ripper prowled the streets. Mary Kelly’s murder site is now a parking ramp. Another is part of a newer business area. We only visited three murder sites, but we did see some things along the way that are still as the were in those days, just as they must have been when looked upon by the Ripper and the East Enders who he terrorized.

Street where the Ripper ran

There was still plenty to see. The street in the photo above shows one of the few areas, other than the murder sites, where evidence proved the Ripper traversed. After the body of Catherine Eddows was found, a bloody, missing piece of her apron was found in a passageway on Glouston Street just down this road. The Ripper must have run from Mitre Square past this spot and down this road to where the piece of apron was discovered. The streets and buildings here are very like they would have looked as the Ripper fled past them at about 1:00 am on the 30th of September, 1888. Next to the piece of apron, on the wall of the passageway, was chalked the famous and much discussed graffiti: “The Juwes are not the men that will be blamed for nothing”.

The Ten Bells
The famous Ten Bells Pub

There were many other Ripper sites that I would have liked to see, but this was more of a casual Ripper tour… “Ripper Lite” as some Ripperologists might say. I did not see the Hoops and Grapes Pub, the oldest surviving pub in London (having escaped the great fire of 1666), London Hospital, No. 259 Whitechapel High Street and other sites that would have been familiar to the Ripper and his victims.

The most fascinating thing about the Ripper is how the coinciding of the economic times, class prejudice, police department turf clashes and especially the driving force of the relatively new sensational newspaper media fed the flames and complexity of the crimes.

I also highly recommend Alan Moore‘s graphic novel “From Hell” and the film made from the book starring Johnny Depp. They are a variation on the theory put forward in the book “The Final Solution” that involved the Freemasons and a Royal coverup.

Comments

  1. Steve Hearn says:

    Tom, thanks for a great day yesterday! Windsor was fun and wonderful to spend time with you and Anna, and her parents, then to top if off, Wendy and I had a fantastic evening with yourself and Anna on the Ripper tour and dinner was loverly, many many thanks! Let’s hope the Twins are in town next month for that ball game!

  2. zwallenfang says:

    Great that you got to do that tour at night. I wouldn’t have it any other way (is it even offered during the day?). I went on that same tour on my only trip outside the US of A. It was a relatively small group, which made the tour seem more personable and “spooky”. It was quite some time ago so I don’t remember too many details, but I do recall some of the stories about his prostitute victims being pretty depressing. I believe “From Hell” had been released in theaters earlier that year.

    Looks like it’s been a great week so far!

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