Killer fun on London walkBy Rebecca Magill
May 15, 2008
Have some rip roaring fun and a spooky time on a Jack the Ripper.
What is it about our obsession with Jack the Ripper? Why is it that a serial killer with a penchant for sozzled prostitutes still manages to capture our imagination after almost 120 years?
The mysterious man has featured in numerous books, films and TV, but one of the most unusual off-shoots is the booming popularity of Jack the Ripper Walks, which take place on the streets of East London most e venings. So what’s all the fuss about?
I decided to find out for myself.
I am not the biggest fan of horror films, but my ears prick up when the mention of some gruesome murder comes on the TV. Am I the only person with this morbid curiosity?
It seems not. When we turned up at Aldgate East Tube station one Sunday evening for a Jack the Ripper Walk, there were more than 20 people waiting.
I had booked the Jack the Ripper Tour, run by Ripperologist (that’s what they’re called apparently) Richard Jones. From his website I saw that he had written a book and a DVD on the subject, so at least he knew his stuff.
However, it wasn’t Richard who was taking the tour (even the most dedicated Ripperologists need a break) but Philip Hutchinson , who, according to his card, is a historian, actor, author and paranormal researcher.
We had to walk for five minutes to our first destination in Mitre Square, where the fourth Ripper murder took place.
Unfortunately, the day turned out to be one of the wettest oones on record, but it was atmospheric huddling under umbrellas in the pouring rain as Philip set the scene.
He described what East London would have been like during the time of Jack the Ripper and it certainly sounded grim, with massive over-crowding, high unemployment, prostitution and drugs.
Describing in gut-wrenching details what had happened to poor victim Catherine Eddowes, he pointed to what seemed like a particularly unremarkable patch of cobble stone, he announced that this was indeed where the body was found.
In the following hour and a half we went to various sites around the East End, with Philip building up the story and atmosphere at each location. It was almost the end of the tour, and the constant rain, when we reached Miller’s Court, near Spitalfields. This was the place where Mary Jane Kelly died in a single room. After describing what had happened, Philip pulled out a grainy picture of her body.
Looking at this photo of the poor murder victim, standing on the spot where she died in the rain was quite moving. Well, it was a bit creepy anyway.
All in all it was an interesting, if slightly macabre, way to spend an evening.
Not only does it make you appreciate some of the beautiful 19th century architecture that is still standing in East London, but it is also an amazing feeling to stand on the spot where all the Ripper stories actually happened.
As we said goodbye at the tube station Philip gave us his finishing speech, announcing who he thought the real Ripper was.
And his conclusion? Well you’ll just have to book the tour and find out for yourself.
Long on to www.jack-the-ripper-tour.com for more information. The tour costs £6.50 per person.