Sunday, May 08, 2016

Jack the Ripper Tour

Happy Days Fish and Chip Shop
Property rented out to movie companies
Last weekend my husband took me away to London for a Jack the Ripper Tour arranged by Edwards Coaches. It was an anniversary present and a great one at that! Other women get flowers and chocolates but I got a slasher tour. Just kidding I got the flowers and chocs too. It was honestly the best present he could have given to me as going on that tour brought the area to life for me. The tour lasted for two hours and was well worth it as the guide took us around the streets and alleyways that the victims and Jack the Ripper himself would have used. I actually asked if some of the cobbles were the very ones they had walked on and I was assured that they were!
One place we were shown was the Happy Days Fish and Chip shop at Goulston Street, which was the site where Catherine Eddows bloodied apron was found. Apparently the police had hold of it for six weeks and then it conveniently disappeared! Although there was no DNA back then, imagine if they'd kept it, later on it could have been analysed! But apparently lots of evidence went missing back then as our guide told us they were just left lying around and not always labelled.

A nearby street
Another building we passed was this eerie building on the left that was light up inside and full of old furniture. Apparently, it's used by movie companies for programmes like Ripper Street and would be very expensive to purchase even though it looks run down! No one lives there, it's just rented out.

The street intersecting with that one was extremely spooky I found, it looked very olde worlde, yet properties there would cost a fortune!

The Ten Bells pub next door to Spitalfield's Church was of interest to me as it was said that some of the Ripper's victims would have drank there, maybe even the Ripper himself!
The Ten Bells pub

Wikipedia says: "The Ten Bells is a public house at the corner of Commercial Street and Fournier Street in Spitalfieds in the East End of  London. It is sometimes cited as being notable for its association with two victims of Jack the Ripper; Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly." I was most interested in seeing Miller's Court where Mary once lived but it's no longer there, now it's a building site with a huge crane stuck in the middle!

The pub is just a short walk from that area so I could well imagine Mary having a few gins at the Ten Bells, maybe picking up a client and staggering back to her humble abode, which is most probably how she met her grizzly demise!

Of all the victims I find Mary Jane Kelly, the most intriguing of all!

A crane now stands on the site of Miller's Court

I suppose I imagined the walk would meander along deathly quiet streets, swirling with fog, but of course it wasn't like that at all. It's a very busy area indeed and especially as it was a Saturday night as people passed us dressed up for a night out and on some parts of the tour you could hear the 'Boom Boom' of music vibrating from pubs and clubs out onto pavements beneath our feet, though some parts like near the expensive houses, the streets were quieter which added to the ambiance. A good imagination is needed for this tour to get the full effect!

Also I imagined there would be just the one tour going on, quite naively! There were several going on at the same time with various guides and we were almost bumping in to one another as we criss-crossed the streets, not to mention almost colliding with several other members of the public.

Spitalfields Church is very close to the Ten Bells pub. According to this website:

Spitafields Church "Christ Church was built between the years 1714 and 1729 as part of the church building programme initiated by the Fifty New Churches act of 1711, backed by Queen Anne, which was implemented by four different parliamentary commissions. At the time, there were fears that ‘godless thousands’ outside the City of London had no adequate church provision, and that non-conformists – including large numbers of French Huguenot silk weavers – were moving into Spitalfields and bringing their non-conformist worshipping ways with them."

Another Ripper Tour near ours
It seemed strange to think that the 'unfortunates' as they were known back then, i.e. prostitutes, were frequenting a pub so near to that the church where the moralists of that time would have attended. Would the prostitutes have gone there to worship too? Although the guide told us that it was St Botolph’s Church near Mitre Street that they encircled to ply their trade.     

I would say all in all, the Jack the Ripper tour we attended was very good and we got our money's worth from it. The guide told me something I hadn't heard before and that was [he got it from good authority] that the 'intestines over the left shoulder' thing that the Ripper did was connected to the Masons. It seemed to be a symbolic thing. He also showed us various photographs of the victims which were quite gruesome. Some of the women appeared to be middle-aged with Mary Kelly being the youngest at around 25 years of age.

So, I suppose it begs the questions did any of the women know their murderer? Had they encountered him beforehand, maybe say at the Ten Bells pub? Why was Mary Kelly's murder far more brutal than the others? It was almost as though 'Jack' wanted to hack off their identity and make them less of a woman by removing their uteruses. And strangely enough, why did Doctor John Rees Gabe [a qualified gynaecologist], attend Mary Kelly's murder scene along with an obstetrician?

The questions swirl around and around in my mind...

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