In 1888, East London was not the kind of place where you’d want to be walking around dark alleys. More or less slums, the living conditions in the area were squalid. The area was predominately inhabited by London’s working classes, a hodgepodge of immigrants mostly from Poland, Russia, and Germany. Whitechapel was in the center of all this.
If you took a time machine back to 1888, Whitechapel would have been buzzing day and night. Ladies working hard for their rent on the street corner, barefoot children running along the cobblestones, men gathering at the pub for a pint or two (or ten) after their shifts at the docks. But there would have been something else in the air in 1888 – fear. Ladies of the night were being killed left and right. Not just killed, brutally murdered. Nobody knew who was responsible, and the entire city of London was enraptured in the media frenzy.
The serial killer was dubbed “Jack the Ripper”, a name still infamous today. While we still don’t know who the man was behind the pseudonym, the mystery and the gruesome murders, still remain a source of twisted fascination to locals and visitors to London alike.
A couple weeks ago I joined Jack the Ripper Tour for a special blogger’s evening with renowned Jack the Ripper expert and author Richard Jones. Mr. Jones took us through East London’s streets and painted the story for us, murder by murder.
East London is no longer an area of slums and squalor, it has become one of the capital’s hippest and increasingly expensive areas to live. (As of August, it is now where I call home.) I was grateful that we had such a theatric guide in Mr. Jones – otherwise it would have been hard to imagine millionaire hipster flats as the location for seedy killings and notorious evil.
I don’t want to go to in-depth with what happened on the tour. The history is what it is. There is only so much information on Jack the Ripper and what happened during the time of those murders. Jack the Ripper Tour have some serious experts on staff – and I can all but guarantee if you join them you will leave feeling fully educated on the subject.
If you can get on a tour with Richard Jones, I would highly recommend it. He steps into character from the first minute; exploring the alleyways, quoting the newspapers, and making you feel like you have joined a one-man theatrical production on Jack the Ripper rather than just another walking tour.
If you would like to delve into London’s gruesome past, you can book a walking tour with Jack the Ripper Tour on their website. The tour lasts two hours, and costs £10 per person. Big bang for your buck.
I was invited on the Jack the Ripper tour as a guest, for the purpose of this review. While I have decided to not reveal the mysteries of the tour, I promise that they are well worth finding out for yourself.