Follow in the brutal murderer's footsteps as you trace his spine-chilling progress through Victorian London's notoriously sinister East End.
Over a ten-week period between August 31 and November 9, 1888 five prostitutes -- Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly -- were brutally murdered in the East End of London. The ferocity of the mutilations increased with each killing. The police appeared helpless against the killer and the whole of London felt threatened. At the height of the panic a letter was sent to a London news agency purporting to come from the murderer and taunting the police over their inability to catch him. It was signed Jack the Ripper and when it was made public in October 1888 it turned five sordid East End murders into an international phenomenon and elevated the unknown miscreant into the realm of legend. This walk visits three of the murder sites, as well as to that of another -- which although not thought to be the work of Jack the Ripper, was classed as a Whitechapel Murder, the official name of the police file on which the killings were included.
Distance 2.5 miles (4km)
Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Start Aldgate Underground Station
Finish Aldgate East Underground Station
1. From the station turn right on to Aldgate High Street.
At 8:30pm on September 29, 1888 Police Constable Robinson arrested Catherine Eddowes here for being drunk and disorderly. He took her to nearby Bishopsgate Police Station where she was placed in a cell and left to sober up. She was released at 1am the next morning.
2. Continue ahead passing the church of St Botolph, which in 1888 was known as the Prostitutes' Church because the Victorian street walkers plied their trade alongside it.
Go past the church, over the first crossing, swerve right over the second crossing, bear right past the Sir John Cass Foundation School -- note the figures of the charity boy and girl in the first-floor alcoves. Turn left into St James's Passage. This was known as Church Passage in 1888. It was here at 1:30am on 30 September 1888 that Joseph Lawende saw a man and woman talking. Although the woman had her back to him he later identified Catherine Eddowes's clothing, when shown it at a police station, as being the clothes worn by the woman. It is probable that Lawende saw the face of Jack the Ripper.
3. Continue into Mitre Square and cross to the flowerbed.
At 1:45am on 30 September 1888 PC Watkins turned into the square and discovered the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes on this spot.
4 Turn your back on the flowerbed, head diagonally left across the square and pass through the covered Mitre Passage. Bear right across Creechurch Place, right along Creechurch Lane, go over Bevis Marks and cross Houndsditch into Stoney Lane. Bear right then left into Gravel Lane and go over Middlesex Street. As you do so you leave the City of London and enter the East End. Keep ahead along New Goulston Street; at the end go left into Goulston Street.
The solid block of flats on its right side is Wentworth Model Dwellings, built in 1886 and largely occupied by Jewish tradesmen in 1888. It was in the doorway, now the takeaway counter of the Happy Days Fish Restaurant, that PC Alfred Long discovered a piece of Catherine Eddowes's apron at 2:55am on September 30, 1888. It was smeared with blood and the killer had evidently used it to clean his hands. The discovery suggests that the murderer lived in the area, since he headed east from Mitre Square and was undoubtedly going to ground. The doorway also contained a sinister chalked message that read, "The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing." The Metropolitan Police, worried that this message might provoke an outbreak of anti-Semitic unrest in the area, erased the graffiti before any photographs could be taken of it.
5. Continue and go right along Wentworth Street. Cross Commercial Street and pause outside the Princess Alice Pub.
In the early days of the hunt for the Ripper, local prostitutes spoke of a man they had nicknamed Leather Apron, who had threatened them near this pub.
6. Continue along Wentworth Street. Turn right into Gunthorpe Street.
The red brick building a little way along on the right stands on the site of George Yard Buildings, where the body of Martha Tabram was found at 5am on August 7, 1888. She had been stabbed 39 times. Some experts maintain that she was the first victim of Jack the Ripper.
7. Continue the length of Gunthorpe Street, passing the White Hart Pub.
A board on the wall gives a brief history of the the Ripper's crimes and suspects. They include George Chapman, a Polish barber/surgeon who in 1890 worked in a barber's shop in the basement of this pub. Chapman was executed in 1903 for poisoning three of his wives. Inspector Abberline, who headed the search for Jack the Ripper in the area, believed that he may also have been the Ripper.
8. Go through the arch to turn left along Whitechapel High Street. Keep ahead to the traffic lights and go left into Osborn Street. Continue ahead into Brick Lane and pause at its junction with Thrawl Street.
This now leads to a modern council estate but in 1888 it was lined with lodging houses. Mary Nichols was ejected from No. 18 in the early hours of August 31, 1888 because she lacked fourpence to pay for a bed. At 3:40am her body was found a quarter of a mile away in Bucks Row. Her throat had been cut and she had been disembowelled. She spent some of her final hours in the Frying Pan Pub, which is now the Sheraz Indian restaurant on the corner here. However, if you look up at the gable you will see two crossed frying pans and the pub's name, Ye Frying Pan, in brick relief.
9. Continue along Brick Lane and go second left into Fournier Street. The houses here were built in the 18th century for the Huguenot master silk weavers. Go right along Wilkes Street and right into Princelet Street.
The street is lined with 18th-century houses. No. 19 on the left became the United Friends Synagogue (www.19princeletstreet.org.uk) in 1870, and is the oldest minor synagogue in the East End. It is sometimes open to visitors.
10. Turn left on to Brick Lane and go left into Hanbury Street. Its left side is little changed since 1888. The right side was demolished in the 1960s and replaced with the ugly brown brick complex that lines it today.
Pause on the opposite side of the road to No. 30. This is the approximate site of the original No. 29, in the backyard of which the body of Annie Chapman was discovered at 6am on September 8, 1888.
11. Keep ahead along Hanbury Street, pausing by Christchurch Hall on its left side where a board gives a detailed history. Go left along Wilkes Street, right through Puma Court, noting the almshouses on the right which were built in 1860. Turn left on to Commercial Street to the Ten Bells Pub.
Annie Chapman was seen drinking here at 5am on the morning of her murder. A man popped his head round the door and called her out. Mary Kelly, the Ripper's final victim, also frequented the Ten Bells.
12. Keep ahead over Fournier Street. Look up at the soaring tower of Christ Church Spitalfields (1729).
This magnificent church (www.christchurchspitalfields.org.uk; Open Sun 1-4pm and Tue 11am-4pm) rears over the older streets of Spitalfields, dominating its surroundings. It was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736) and is truly spectacular inside.
13. Cross Commercial Street via the crossing, bear right and then, just after the White's Row car park, go left through the barrier.
This was once Dorset Street, one of the most crime-ridden streets in the East End of London. Just past the iron steps on the right, a gap in the kerbstones marks the approximate site of Miller's Court, the place where Mary Kelly, Jack the Ripper's final victim, rented a room. Her virtually skinned body was found here on November 9, 1888.
14. Backtrack to Commercial Street, turn right and walk to its end, where you will find Aldgate East Underground Station.