Publisher's Note: My wife and I visited London in 2004 and we took the Jack the Ripper Tour. It was at night. I believe it started around 7 pm. It was pouring 'cats and dogs' but we with about another dozen souls trudged on walking the very streets that Jack the Ripper did in 1888. We experienced Mitre Street and saw where the bodies were found and ended the tour at the Ten Bells, a tavern frequented by the Jack's victims. Although we were drenched we still cherish the memories of that walk in the London's East End. Our tour company was The Original London Walks.
During the investigation of the Whitechapel murders photography was in its relative infancy. Although the police used photography it is interesting to note that only one of the victims of Jack the Ripper was actually photographed at the scene of the crime. The others were only photographed once their bodies had been removed to the mortuary and cleaned up. The images that you will see in the Jack the Ripper photos are quite disturbing and it should always be remembered that at the heart of the Jack the Ripper mystery are five women whose lives were blighted by poverty and by the attitudes of the British establishment of the day.
Gunthorpe Street Today. Gunthorpe Street still retains some of its 19th century character. The arch that goes into it from Whitechapel High Street could be an entrance to a bygone era. On its left stands the White Hart pub where in 1890 George Chapman, apparently a favoured suspect of Inspector Abberline, is said to have had a barbers shop in the basement. It was on a landing George Yard buildings, a block of apartments off Gunthorpe Street that have now been demolished, that the body of Martha Tabram, who some historians maintain was the first of the victims of Jack the Ripper, was discovered in early August 1888.
Durward Street. It was in Durward Street (then called Bucks Row) that the first of the victims of Jack the Ripper was murdered. Within months of the killing the local residents had become so ashamed by the sudden notoriety that they petitioned the council and had the name changed from Bucks Row to Durward Street.
The Old Board School. This huge building today dominates the East End of Durward Street. It has now been converted into desirable accommodation. The children used to play on the roof which is why you can see the railings up there! It was in the parking area to the left where the cars are parked that the body of Mary Nichols was discovered by Charles Cross at around 3.40am in the morning of August 31st 1888. She was the first of the victims of Jack the Ripper.
PC Neil Finds the body of Mary Nichols. Although Charles Cross and Robert Paul discovered the body of Mary Nichols, they failed to notice that her throat had been slashed. That discovery was made by PC Neil a little after Cross and Paul had left the scene.
Mary Nichols the first of the victims of jack the ripper was a 41 year old prostitute who had earlier being ejected from a common lodging house in Thrawl Street because she didn't have the pittance to pay for her bed. "I'll soon get my doss money," she a confidently predicted, "see what a jolly bonnet I'm wearing."
The Detectives of H- Division. 'Polly' Nichols was murdered on the eastern fringe of Whitechapel and so her murder was investigated by officers of the Metropolitan Police's J Division. However H division, whose detectives are pictured here were already investigating the murders of Emma Smith in April 1888 and Martha Tabram in August 1888. These were the men who in the weeks ahead would go into the streets of Whitechapel and hunt for jack the Ripper.
Edmund Reid. In charge of the H-Division was Inspector Edmund John James Reid, a much respected detective who the Weekly Dispatch described as being 'one of the most remarkable men of the century.' He was a keen ballooning enthusiast who was awarded a medal for ascending to a record height in 1883. In 1876 he made what was possibly the first parachute jump in England from 1,000 feet above Luton!
Frederick George Abberline. Inspector Frederick George Abberline was an officer with a brilliant career in the East End of London and a man who knew the area's streets and underworld intimately. A year before the Jack the Ripper murders he had been promoted to Scotland Yard (the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police.) However, when the first victims of Jack the Ripper were murdered he was drafted back into the district to take overall charge of the on the ground detectives. His workload became so great that he was brought to the verge of a breakdown by it.
The Former Frying Pan Pub. Brick Lane. Mary Nichols was seen leaving the Frying Pan pub on Brick Lane shortly before her body was discovered in Bucks Row around 3/4 of a mile away. Although the pub is now a curry house, if you look up at the terra cotta square just beneath the building's gable you can still see the crossed Frying Pans and the name Ye Frying Pan. It stands on the corner of Thrawl Street where Mary Nichols was living before her murder.
Hanbury Street Today. The site where the murder of Annie Chapman took place (shown prior to its demolition on right) stood on the north side of Hanbury Street and was demolished in the 1960's by the Truman brewery who built this light brown brick building on the site. This is no longer used as a brewery. However enough of the north side of the street still survives to give an idea of what the buildings would have been like.
29 Hanbury Street. A little after 5.30am on the 8th September 1888, Elizabeth Long saw Annie Chapman standing outside number 29 Hanbury Street talking with a man.
Backyard of 29 Hanbury Street. It was in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street that the body of the second of the victims of Jack the Ripper, Annie Chapman, was discovered by John Davies an elderly resident of the building. Her body was found in the gap between the steps and the fence.
Annie Chapman. The body of Annie Chapman was horrifically mutilated and it was with her killing that the first signs of genuine fear and panic began to surface in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel.
The Streets of Spitalfields Today. Although all the sites where the Jack the Ripper murders took place have been demolished and the area has seen a great deal of change since the so-called autumn of terror, several of the streets have survived relatively unscathed and wandering through them is like stepping back in time.
Berner Street. The additional police presence on the streets of the East End in the wake of the murder of Annie Chapman seems to have deterred Jack the Ripper for the rest of September and by the end of the month people began to believe that the Whitechapel murders were at an end. But then at 1am on 30th September Louis Diemshutz found the body of Elizabeth Stride in Dutfield's Yard off Berner Street. In the photograph Dutfield's Yard is the one with the wheel hanging over it. The other shot shows the same view as it looks today. The yard where the murder took place has been replaced by the modern school building.
Elizabeth Stride was the third of jack the Ripper's victims and the fact that she had only had her throat cut, as opposed to having the rest of her body mutilated, has led some historians to dub her, somewhat bizarrely, 'Lucky Liz Stride.' It seems likely that Jack the Ripper was interrupted by Louis Diemshutz and that is why the rest of her body had not been mutilated. In the days that followed her murder a witness by the name of Israel Schwarz came forward to say that he may well have seen Elizabeth Stride being murdered. He claimed that he had turned in to Berner Street at 12.45am and had seen a man, who was walking ahead of him, attack a woman in front of the entrance to Dutfield's Yard. It is highly likely that Schwarz may well have seen the face of her murderer.
Mitre Square Today. In 2005 Mitre Square is a relatively nondescript place, mostly surrounded by unappealing office buildings. A flower bed now occupies the site where the body of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth of the victims of Jack the Ripper, was discovered at around 1.45am on 30th September 1888.
Mitre Square. Forty five minutes after the body of Elizabeth Stride had been discovered, P.C. Watkins found the badly mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes in Mitre Square. With this murder Jack the Ripper had crossed the boundary and had killed in the City of London. This meant that another police force, the City of London Police, would now become officially involved in the hunt for jack the Ripper.
The City of London Police. The Mitre Square murder was investigated by the City of London Police, the force that has the responsibility for the one square mile of the City of London. In charge of them was acting commissioner Major Smith. The irony of Catherine Eddowes murder is that she had been in police custody at Bishopsgate Police Station having been arrested for drunkenness in Aldgate High Street at around 8.30pm on 29th September. She had, however, sobered up by the early hours of 30th and was released at 1am. Stringent orders had been given to the City Police that prostitutes frequenting public houses and walking the streets were to be kept under observation. Yet Catherine Edowes had been allowed to walk out of Bishopsgate Police Station, thereby sealing her fate.
Wentworth Street Model Dwellings. This building was built in 1886. In 1888 it provided accommodation for Jewish tradesmen and their families. It was in a doorway of this building, as the police tracked Jack the Ripper in the aftermath of the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, that P.C. Alfred Long of the Metropolitan Police found a piece of Catherine's bloodstained apron. Scrawled in chalk on the wall above it was a message which read 'The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.'
The Ten Bells Pub. The Ten Bells pub is the only public house in the immediate vicinity to have survived from 1888. It is said that Mary Kelly spent some of the final hours of her life drinking in this pub. In the 1970's the pub changed its name to the 'Jack the Ripper' in order to cash in on its infamous connection. However, in 1988 an enthusiastic landlord who began selling so-called 'Ripper-Tipples' to the hoards of tourists who flocked to the area in the centenary year, provoked outrage in some circles and the brewery changed its name back to the ten bells.
Dorset Street. Mary Kelly, the last of the victims of Jack the Ripper, lived in Dorset Street. Today it is a very unattractive private road lined on one side by modern industrial units, and on the other by the looming bulk of White's Row car park. However, it is worth climbing to the top storey of the car park for some superb views over the roof tops of the nearby 18th century houses and streets.
Dorset Street in 1888 was a sordid street lined by common lodging houses and was known as one of the district's most violent and crime-ridden streets. Drunken brawls were so common that when two of Mary Kelly's neighbours heard a cry of 'Murder' at around 4am on November 9th 1888, they ignored it and went back to sleep. The reports of the cry of 'Murder' being ignored by the neighbours, incidentally, has given rise to the mistaken belief that murder was common in the area. Murder was in fact relatively uncommon.
Miller's Court. Mary Kelly lived in Miller's Court, off Dorset Street. She was heard singing in her room there in the early hours of the morning of the 9th November 1888. A little before 2am she was seen to bring a man back to that room. At around 4am several of Mary's neighbours claimed to have heard a faint cry of "Murder!" However, Dorset Street was a very violent street and drunken brawls were commonplace in which the participants would often make similar cries. So Mary's neigbours ignored what was probably a cry for help as the Ripper struck in that tiny room in Miller's Court. The site of Miller's Court is now occupied by a food warehouse. The gap in the paving stones below its loading bay shows where the entrance to Miller's Court used to be.
Mary Kelly's Room. At 10.45am on the 9th November 1888, Thomas Bowyer called at number 13 Miller's Court to collect Mary Kelly's overdue rent. He got no reply when he knocked on the door, so he stepped around the corner and pulled aside a curtain that was covering a broken window pane. Gazing in to the gloomy room he discovered her horribly mutilated body.
The Murder of Mary Kelly. Mary Kelly was the only one of the victims of Jack the Ripper to be photographed at the scene of her murder. Even today this one of the Jack the Ripper photos is very disturbing and the words of her landlord, John McCarthy, that her murder looked "...more like the work of a devil than the work of a man..." still ring true.
St Leonard's Church Shoreditch. The mortuary to which the body of Mary Kelly was taken was attached to St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch. It was from here that her funeral cortege left to begin the journey to St Patrick's Cemetery in Leyton. A crowd several thousand strong arrived to pay their respects to the last of the victims of Jack the Ripper.
Mary Kelly's Final Resting Place. Mary Kelly was buried in a common grave at St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Leyton. A memorial stone has now been erected to her there, and people still lay flowers in memory of the 25 year old girl from Limerick, in Ireland, who became the last of the victims of Jack the Ripper.
This one of Our Jack the Ripper Photos shows the church of St Mary's Whitechapel. It was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War and an open park now occupies its site. It was the habit of lime-washing important buildings such as this that turned it into the "White Chapel" from which the name of the area as a whole was derived. At the time of the Jack the Ripper murders this church dominated the Whitechapel Road up and down which the prostitutes of the area, including Jack the Ripper's victims paraded after the hours of darkness.
George Yard Buildings. It was on an upper landing of George Yard Buildings that the body of Martha Turner was discovered in the early hours of the morning of the 8th of August 1888. Some experts maintain that she was the first victim of Jack the Ripper, although others point out that her injuries were not consistent with the "ripping" injuries inflicted on the bodies of his victims by Jack the Ripper. Whether or not she was a victim of Jack the Ripper, her murder certainly was viewed at the time as being the work of the Whitechapel murderer, and when a few weeks later Mary Nichols was murdered in nearby Bucks Row, people began to panic at the prospect of a repeat killer being loose on the streets of Whitechapel.
London in 1888 was the world's largest capital city, and on the surface it seemed a confident and settled place. But beneath the surface there lurked a general feeling of extreme unease. Many of the more "respectable" middle class citizens were convinced that there was going to be a revolution, and if there was, they knew that it would probably begin in the streets of Whitechapel where 67,000 people lived in abject poverty and where men, women and children fought a daily battle for survival. The photograph on the left shows a teeming Fleet Street in the City of London looking towards St Paul's Cathedral. But the sordid streets of Whitechapel, such as that shown in the photo to the right, were less than a fifteen minute walk from here. So the citizens you see in this one of our Jack the Ripper photos would have looked eastward with a great deal of trepidation and concern.
I hope you have enjoyed this journey through the Jack the Ripper photos. There are, of course many more Jack the Ripper pictures and the mystery of the Whitechapel murders is still without doubt the world's greatest murder mystery. Please feel free to print off the information for your own personal use. The information contained herein may not be used commercially without the express permission of the copyright holder.
You may also like to join Richard Jones on one of his Jack the Ripper Tours.