Jack The Ripper Walk
The Whitechapel Murders
4.3 Miles - 7Km
Fast walk 1hour 35 minutes.
Allow 3 hours or more to explore.
Start: Aldgate East Tube Station
End:Liverpool Street Station
Highlights include: all the murder sights and surrounding streets - Gunthorpe Street, Durward St, Thrawl Street, Fashion Street, Princelet Street, Fournier Street, Hanbury Street, Henriques Street, A: Fairclough Street, Goulston Street, Mitre Street & Mitre Square and White's Row.
The Whitechapel Murders
From August to November 1888, Londoners lived in fear of the serial murderer with a gruesome modus operandi, who soon became known as 'Jack The Ripper'.
All the victims were women, living in what was then the most squalid and deprived area of London, Whitechapel. There was no running water and sewage was thrown directly into the street. Infant mortality was estimated to be 50% (children living beyond the age of five years old.)
In the late 1800's Whitechapel was where Russian Jews and the Irish sought refuge from persecution and famine. For men, work was hard to find and irregular. Some found labouring work in the nearby docks and markets. For many men stealing became their way of life and for many women prostitution was the only way to survive. 1n 1888 police records estimate that at least 1,200 prostitutes were active on the streets of Whitechapel. Drink was cheap and often used as an escape from reality. Drunken brawls were common and it's no surprise that all but one of the Ripper's victims were prostitutes who had been drinking.
The poor were easy prey for callous landlords. It cost four pence a night to sleep in a doss house dormitory housing as many as eighty people in one room. It even cost two pence to sleep standing up against a rope tied between the dormitory walls. Those who couldn't pay were forced to sleep in the streets.
Traditionally this part of London was always poor. But today, Whitechapel is a very different place. Recently, the wealth generated by the City of London just a few minutes walk away, has turned this part of the East End into a very fashionable place to live and work. Everywhere you look, some kind of construction work is starting or nearing completion.
Today, the result of all this change is an exciting mix of different groups of British society all co-existing with each other and their surroundings. The offices are busy, the markets are full and unemployment is at its lowest level for decades.
On this walk I have tried to showcase the remaining architecture that Jack The Ripper would have experienced. As the murder scene area is so small I have decided make the walk chronological with the Ripper's murders, so there is some retracing of steps. Also, I do encourage you to explore many of the little lanes and alleyways behind Spitalfields, although they are now full of trendy shops, cafes and bars. With a little imagination it is easy to picture the Ripper fleeing from a murder scene through a filthy, badly-lit passageway to the safety of a crowded busy road.
For my research I have relied on Ivan Butler's excellent book 'Murderers' London'. It's out of print, but it can be found second-hand online. Quotes from Ivan's book are in quotation marks.
The identity of Jack The Ripper is controversial and unproven. "No-one can say for certain now whether he committed all of, or more than, the murders attributed to him, but the generally accepted number of his victims is six."
For this walk I set off with a copy of 'Murders' London' following the trail of Jack The Ripper as described by Ivan Butler.
A) Aldgate East Station
Take Exit 2, turn right onto Whitechapel High St. and left into Commercial St. Cross the road and turn right into Wentworth Street. Look out for Gunthorpe Street on your right. Turn Right
B: Gunthorpe Street
At first this small street doesn't look very promising. A building site on one side and a 1960's workshop block on the other. But, as you walk down, you'll see Victorian workshops, and beyond that is the site of Jack the Ripper's first murder. On the 7th August 1888 the body of Martha Turner, or Tabram, a thirty five year old prostitute, was found on the first floor of George Yard buildings (now Gunthorpe St.). The body was discovered by a resident on his way to work just before 5.00 am. The police surgeon who arrived at about 5.30 am, estimated that Martha had been dead three hours. She had been stabbed 39 times in the body and neck.
Close to the murder scene at the southern end of Gunthorpe Street is a narrow arched passage. Next to the passage is the White Hart Pub where one of several Ripper suspects, Severin Klosowski, worked as a barber in the pub's basement.
Turn left onto Whitechapel High Street and continue past the East London Mosque and The Ibis Hotel. Both are on the other side of the road. At Vallance Road turn left, have a look at the architecture of the shops, cross the road and then turn right into Durward St.
C: Durward St
Just over three weeks after Martha Tabram's murder, on 31st August, the Ripper's second victim, Mary Ann Nichols, was found lying across the pavement of Bucks Row (now Durward Street), towards the Brady Street end. I think the exact spot is just past the Whitechapel Sports Centre.
Ivan Butler describes the events immediately after Mary Ann Nichols' murder. "A porter passing along Bucks Row with another man in the darkness found the body, and hurried to Brady Street where they met a police constable. Meanwhile another policeman advancing on his beat from the opposite direction, Old Montague Street, had also discovered the dead woman, and she was taken to Old Montague Street workhouse mortuary. Altogether four people, two of them constables, had arrived on the scene from different directions within half an hour or less of the murder, and no-one had heard or seen anything unusual".
Mary Ann Nichols was 42 years old and separated from her husband. She turned to prostitution to survive. On several occasions before her death, she was refused a night's lodging because of an inability to pay. "Mary Ann Nichols was last seen by a friend staggering drunkenly along a wall in nearby Osborn Street."
This street has a history of cruelty. In earlier years, Bucks Row had been known as Ducking Pond Row, a place of punishment for scolding wives.
Warning! Little of the site remains. See the photos on the interactive map. The whole area around Whitechapel Station is under construction.
Mary Ann Nichols
D: Thrawl Street
When Mary Ann Nichols could afford it, she rented lodgings in Thrawl Street and Flower And Dean Street. In the 1880's these streets were notorious for being the most squalid in Whitechapel, "the ﬁlthy haunts of prostitutes and thieves, the wretched and the wicked." Today these streets have been totally rebuilt and in 1984 Prince Charles opened a social housing project that still remains.
E: : Fashion Street - Princelet Street Fournier Street
All these streets have good examples of period architecture. Two of the Ripper's victims lived in Fashion Street
F: Hanbury Street
The body of Annie Chapman was found in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street in the early morning of 8th September. Her husband John was a coachman and they had three children - two girls and a boy. Their son, John, was severely disabled and their eldest daughter, Emily, died of meningitis. After this John and Annie turned to drink. The marriage fell apart and the surviving daughter ran off to join a circus. "Annie eked out a miserable existence as a prostitute, creeping into a doss house bed whenever she had been able to trade herself for a few pence". She was 47 at the time of her death. 29 Hanbury Street is now a commercial building. But, if you turn round and look at the buildings on the other side of the road - they are original.
G: Henriques Street
The public, and the press, really started to take notice of Jack The Ripper when, on 30th September, he murdered two women in one night. The great Ripper scare really began.
The ﬁrst victim was in Berner Street, now Henriques Street, in the back-yard of No 40, then partly occupied by a working men's club,
A street seller found the body of Elizabeth Stride (a Swede whose maiden name was Gustafsdotter). Her throat had been cut, but it looked as if the Ripper had been interrupted before he had time to complete his usual work of mutilation.
Elizabeth Stride had been married to a carpenter and together they managed a coffee house in Poplar according to her own, uncorroborated story. Tragedy struck when both her husband and children were drowned in the pleasure steamer Princess Alice, which sank in the Thames. This catastrophe, she was in the habit of declaring, drove her to drink and later to prostitution.
Today there are only a few original buildings left In Henriques Street.
At this point, I have split the walk in two.
A: Fairclough Street.
From Henriques Street follow the map to Goulston Street.
B: Goulston Street
Here was found a bloodstained fragment of an apron worn by the Ripper's next victim Catherine Eddowes.
C & D: Mitre Street & Mitre Square
The Ripper wasn't satisfied by the murder of Elizabeth Stride, and so he found his unfortunate 2nd victim of the night, Catherine Eddowes. She had only just been released by the police after being found drunk. She was probably still half drunk and easy to entice into the relative quiet of Mitre Square. The police records show that a local constable on his beat first walked through Mitre Square at 1.30 am. He returned 15 minutes later and found Catherine Eddowes' mutilated body.
The buildings have changed but Mitre Square remains. Explore Mitre Street and the surrounding alleyways.
E: White's Row
After this night of double-feature horror there was quiet for five whole weeks, and Whitechapel was starting to think all might be over, when, on 9th November, the most appalling and revolting murder of all - the only occasion on which the Ripper was able to proceed with his ghastly work indoors and un-disturbed, took place in Miller's Court. The victim, Marie Kelly, was younger and more presentable than the pathetic, prematurely aged drabs he had attacked hitherto. Twenty-four years of age at the time of her death, she had married at 16, lost her husband in an accident four years later, and since then had been living, at ﬁrst with a lover, then alone in the single ground ﬂoor room where her mangled body was found. The discovery was made at about 11 o'clock on the morning of the 9th, by a man who went to collect the rent. On receiving no reply, he put his hand through a broken window-pane, pulled aside a rag of curtain, and looked inside. The room was a shambles. Marie Kelly's naked body, or what was left of it, lay on the bed—practically every organ had been removed and was draped or scattered around the room. Her heart was placed on the pillow by her head, which had been cut almost clean from the trunk. The ﬁreplace was piled with charred clothing".
Miller's Court and the surrounding streets were demolished to make an extension for Spitalfields Market and a large car park. The adjoining White's Row does have some original buildings.
Mary Jane Kelly
Ivan Butler sums the story up beautifully. "After this fearful climax Jack the Ripper disappeared into obscurity - and into history. More than any other murderer, he belongs to his period and his setting; as the sites of his crimes are increasingly and more thoroughly obliterated, so the dark, shadowy ﬁgure fades into a vanished, but not forgotten, past".
F: Liverpool Street Station
The end of our walk
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A) 112 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7PU, UK
417 m, 5 minutes
Head northeast on Whitechapel High St/A11 toward Commercial St/A1202
Turn left onto Commercial St/A1202
Turn right onto Wentworth St
Turn right onto Gunthorpe St
B) 4 Gunthorpe St, London E1 7RQ, UK 956 m, 11 minutes
Head southeast on Gunthorpe St toward Whitechapel High St/A11
Turn left onto Whitechapel High St/A11Continue to follow A11
Slight left onto Whitechapel Rd/A11
Turn left onto Vallance Rd/B108
Turn right onto Durward St
C) 57 Durward St, London E1 5BT, UK 1.00 km, 12 minutes
Head southwest on Durward St toward Court St
Turn right onto Vallance Rd/B108
Turn left onto Old Montague St
Turn right to stay on Old Montague St
Continue onto Wentworth St
Turn right toward Thrawl St
Turn left toward Thrawl St
Turn right onto Thrawl St
D) 5 Thrawl St, London E1 6RT, UK
271 m, 3 minutes
Head south on Thrawl St toward Nathaniel Cl
Turn right onto Commercial St/A1202
Slight right to stay on Commercial St/A1202
Turn right onto Fashion St
E) 24-30 Fashion St, London E1, UK
353 m, 4 minutes
Head east on Fashion St toward Brick Ln/B134
Turn left onto Brick Ln/B134
Turn left onto Hanbury St
F) 25-41 Hanbury St, London E1 6QR, UK
1.05 km, 13 minutes
Head east on Hanbury St toward Brick Ln/B134
Turn right onto Brick Ln/B134Continue to follow B134
Turn left onto Whitechapel High St/A11
Turn right onto White Church Ln/B134
Turn left onto Commercial Rd/A13
Turn right onto Henriques St
G) 35 Henriques St, Whitechapel, London E1 1LZ, UK
NB I have had to split the walk into two. Follow the green markers on the map
A) 10 Fairclough St, Whitechapel, London E1 1PR, UK
915 m, 12 minutes
Head west on Fairclough St toward Back Church Ln
Turn right onto Back Church Ln
Turn left onto Commercial Rd/A13
Turn left onto Whitechapel High St/A11
Turn right onto Goulston St
B) Europoint Ltd, 15 Goulston St, London E1 7TP, UK
520 m, 7 minutes
Head southeast on Goulston St toward Whitechapel High St/A11
Turn right onto Whitechapel High St/A11
Continue straight onto Aldgate High St/A1211 210 m
Continue onto Aldgate
Continue onto Aldgate High St/A1211Continue to follow Aldgate High St
Turn right onto Mitre St
C) 40 Mitre St, London EC3A 3DE, UK
Head northeast on Mitre Square toward Mitre Passage
D) 1 St James's Passage, London EC3A 5DH, UK 804 m, 9 minutes
Head east on St James's Passage toward Dukes Pl/A1211
Turn right onto Dukes Pl/A1211Continue to follow A1211
Turn left toward Gravel Ln
Turn right onto Gravel Ln
Turn left onto Middlesex St
Turn right onto Wentworth St
Turn left onto Toynbee St
Turn left onto White's Row
E) 11A White's Row, London E1 7NF, UK
788 m, 10 minutes
Head west on White's Row toward Tenter Ground
Turn right onto Crispin St
Turn left onto Brushfield St
Turn right onto Bishops Square
Turn left toward Bishopsgate/A10
Turn right onto Bishopsgate/A10
Turn left toward Sun St Passage
Slight right toward Sun St Passage
Turn left onto Sun St Passage
Turn leftDestination will be on the right
F) Liverpool Street Station, London EC2M 7QA, UK