Sunday, 19 October 2008

Jack the Ripper

Tired of my usual Saturday night antics (mostly involving Shoreditch and excess!) I trawled the net for alternative ideas. My Saturday night was decided upon: I would take my mum on a Jack the Ripper walk. We had an unfortunate start, hitting traffic on the way to Tower Hill. At 7.35 we finally arrived but found out that the tour had already left. I hastily called London Walks who helpfully suggested we meet at the rest of the group at scene of the first murder (yikes!), Mitre Square.

Off we ran through the dark streets of Ripper-town. Just as we were getting worried about finding the location in time, a kind cabbie took pity on us (especially my mother methinks!) and gave us a lift to the first stop for free. We reached Mitre Square and the four of us tried to guess which bench Catherine Eddowes met her violent end. Before we could get too frightened, however, a huge mass of people came around the corner, led by a man in a hat: our guide!

Steve was an excellent story teller, animated and expressive. The way he described the murders was so vivid that my stomach flipped. He recounted the particulars of the Ripper’s attacks (throat slitting, disembowelment and other such unpleasant things!). I don’t want to go into too much detail but the murder descriptions are certainly gory enough to make even the most seasoned C.S.I viewer wince. I am always hanging out around Spitalfields but I obviously had no idea of how it used to be in Victorian times. It was interesting and exciting to walk around London in eerie darkness, hearing gruesome tales about ‘the Victorian Bogeyman’ (Steve’s description of Jack the Ripper).

The tour was detailed and our guide even went into society’s reaction to events, the effect the murders had on journalism at the time and the mystery surrounding the identity of the Ripper. I would recommend this walk to anyone wanting to spend seven quid on a fun experience in east London rather than another overpriced cocktail. If you decide you still want one afterwards then the walk finishes near Brick Lane anyway!

The Jack the Ripper Walk meets at 7.30 every night (except December 24th and 25th) outside Tower Hill tube station. I recommend getting there early to avoid missing out! The walk also runs at 3pm on Saturdays.

Waiting at Mitre Square

Leaving for the next location

Steve describes the Ripper's final murder (admirably admiring some drunken bystanders!)

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