If everything you expect about visiting London has to do with London Eye, the guard changing at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben (also known now as Elizabeth Tower) and other touristic points, you should know there is much more to find out about the city itself
London receives 27 million visitors every year and after the Olympic Games, held in the city this year, these numbers probably increased considerably.
Discovering other sights, the 33 districts of the British capital offers can be challenging, but also pleasant.
One of these options is a fascinating tour through the streets that made Jack the Ripper, the most famous serial killer in the world. Even it sounds a bit bizarre; it’s actually a very popular historical tour through the streets of the legendary district of Whitechapel.
This hidden London is not so unknown.
A quick search on “Jack the Ripper tour” on Google shows there are countless options to join and for the cost of just eight pounds, in my case, a very inspired guide puts you into the horror story that haunted London of 19th century.
The tour can be scheduled and paid online and the starting point in usually in some tube station exit. The tour I did last year had its starting point at one of the outputs of Aldgate East station.
With the walk scheduled for seven o’clock, I wanted to know a little more about the guide, Anne Marie, who told me being in this market for more than 10 years.
When we were crossing the Whitechapel High Street, first steps of the walking, there were already at least 20 people following the words of Anne Marie. At our first stop, the alley that leads to Gunthorpe Street, the guide began to explain who Jack the Ripper was. Actually, she explained who he would be because his identity never was discovered.
Considered the first serial killer in the world, never caught by British police, Jack the Ripper is treated as a legend by many; he had been portrayed in movies and books, and also was profiled by the FBI in North America. Its name was taken from a letter sent to the media at the time, by someone who signed as “Jack the Ripper” and was said to be the author of the crime.
The most notorious killer of the Victorian era killed six women (although only five are reported to be killed by him), all prostitutes, from 1888 to 1891. His crimes were considered barbarian ones by mutilating their victims with surgical precision.
As we passed through the points where Jack acted on the streets of Whitechapel, we feel like participating on a criminal investigation. And, if the weather permits, you can be transported to a very dark and misty London. Just like the scenes of the Hitchcock films.
Walking down on Brick Lane, the famous and very popular route with those pubs and awarded restaurants, we stop in front of another important place where one of the victims of Jack was seeing for the last time. What nowadays is known as The Sheraz, an Indian restaurant, in 1888 was the pub named Frying Pan.
During the whole tour is we can find traces of the old London haunted by the crimes of Jack. Although the architecture of the city has changed, and some streets have also changed their names, many of the old buildings of the 19th century are still standing. One of these references is the Ten Bells pub, said to be frequented not by only the victims, but also by the killer.
During the two hours of tour through the streets of Whitechapel, which ends back to the door of the Aldgate East tube, the guide presented facts that could prove that the mysterious murders happened there made Jack the Ripper, the most popular of the killers of history.
When questioned about the what would have happened to Jack, who after killing six people disappeared from the streets of London suddenly, Anne Marie explained, with a bit of doubt on her face, that she doesn’t have the slightest idea about what might have happened to him.
But it was more than likely that “something” has prevented and stopped the most famous serial killer to continue his criminal career. Something like a terminal disease or even the possibility of he has been murdered.
I quite enjoying having no answer to this question, after all the mystery around Jack the Ripper and the tours in London are keep challenging our imagination about the series of crimes motivated the most famous killer in the history.
Published September 12th 2012 here.