On Friday night, beneath a full moon (the perfect backdrop to mine and Ruscha’s experience), we wound our way through the crooked back alleyways of Spitafields and Whitechapel, London, revisiting the spine tingling murder sites of the infamous Jack the Ripper serial killer.
The tour began at 6.30pm in Whitechapel. Trailing the atmospheric route of the unidentified serial killer - Jack the Ripper - we were transported back to 1888. Our tour guide Sara was a “Jack” expert, and both passionate and personable. Throughout the tour, Sara knowledgeably scrutinised and commented on the many disputed conspiracies and theories that have accumulated over the last 120 years – making this of one of history’s most notorious cases.
The famous man hunt began in 1888, after the discovery of a body on 31 August 1888 in London’s East End. The tour follows a location-based route of the killing spree, reverberating the fear and genuine terror felt in Victorian society in the wake of each murder.
Jack’s victim profile consisted of female prostitutes who lived in the slums of London, in and around the Whitechapel district. Attacks were distinguished by cuts of roughly 30 cm long left-to-right induced by the serial killer, as well as abdominal mutilations and the removal of internal organs - this lead to proposals that the killer possessed surgical knowledge. However, Sara clarified that this was only confirmed by one medical expert out of 5. All murders were carried out between the hours of 3.00am-6.00am, on or close to a weekend implying that Jack was unmarried, lived locally, and probably had a full time job. The mutilations became increasingly severe as the series of murders proceeded. Kelly’s murder is considered to be Ripper’s final victim with the crimes ending due to the culprits’ possible death, imprisonment or emigration.
This “Autumn of Terror” ran between the 31st
of August and 9 November 1888, the linked murders of the ‘canonical five’ consisted of: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly. There will always be considerable speculation and interest surrounding the case as although Jack was not the first serial killer his case was the first to create worldwide media frenzy.
The tour was chillingly fascinating, and drew my attention to the poor living conditions and ruthlessness of the Victorian era. The identification of the killer still remains very much ambiguous due to the lack of evidence in the unreliability of contemporary accounts and surviving forensic evidence.
This 2-2.5 hour tour is thought provoking, entertaining and engaging and truly brings the investigation of the heinous crime alive. With images of “evidence” provided by the guide throughout the tour, you as an audience are able to feel more connected to the victims, locations, and police investigation, and get a better sense of how the events unfolded within the society that existed. The guide was also very knowledgeable about the surrounding area, and more than happy to point participants in the direction of facilities, good places to eat, and the nearest stations.
This tour is perfect for ages 13 plus
Tour Sites Visited:
- Widegate St
- White Row
- Flower and Dean Walk
- The Ten Bells public house
- Among many more!
Our expert interview this week comes from family-run business Brit Movie Tours. Offering insightful excursions around London’s most iconic movie sets, this is the perfect gift for a hardcore movie-buff who needs to know every behind-the-scenes detail about their favourite films. I’ve been chatting to Lewis, the director, and here’s what he had to say…
Hi Lewis, please explain your journey as ‘Brit Movie Tours’ so far.
I set up the company in October 2009, then it was onwards and upwards, really. Started with about eight tours, now we have around thirty-five running. The most popular of which is probably like the Harry Potter ones, Downton Abbey, Gavin & Stacey and particularly James Bond. I’ve always been a James Bond fan myself, and I was looking for an organised locations tour in London a few years back, I thought if there’s no one to give me one then I might as well start it, it was a good opportunity, makes sense.
That is a good idea, what’s your biggest/most memorable event?
One that sticks in my mind is on a Gavin & Stacey tour we had Ruth Jones come along, this was one of the first tours, the fans didn’t know she was coming and then she was waiting for us at Stacey’s home, and they just went crazy. So that was very exciting. Yeah, we’ve had various stars come on the tours, we’ve had a Bond Girl, Caroline Munro from The Spy Who Loved Me, she met up with us on a location tour last year, that was pretty nice. Yeah we have lots of fan clubs coming, the James Bond fan club comes every year to do it, the tours, they like doing things like re-enactments in the actual place it was set.
Any inside information? Which tour would you choose?
Well, I’m biased. We try to cater for all ages, nationalities, interests, there’s quite a diverse range. Obviously someone might like James Bond which might not interest someone else. My favourite is James Bond, but we offer something for everyone. People enjoy the idea of stepping from reality into fiction, and doing that in an entertaining way.
Any exciting plans for the future?
We run a Gangster London Tour led by the actor who played Nick the Greek in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. What I’d like to do is have more tours led by celebrities people recognize. I want to keep improving what we already do, making sure people are enjoying them really.
And finally, what would you say is your most frequently asked question from customers?
Good question, I’m not sure! Probably… Where does the tour finish? Where are the toilets? What are we going to see today? What time do we get back? Stuff about the logistics, operational questions like that.
Thanks for the interview, Lewis. Really fancy a Harry Potter tour now…
Check out the fantastic movie tours on offer and go yourself!
Game of Thrones Tour, Belfast
Harry Potter Movie Bus Tour, London
Harry Potter Walking Tour, London
Jack the Ripper Tour, London
James Bond Bus Movie Tour, London
Midsomer Murders Location Tour, London
Sherlock Holmes Movie Tour, London
Group Size & Spectators:
This London tour is available for ticket/voucher holders only.
The Jack The Ripper tour can be booked on the1st and 3rd Saturday of each month from Feb - Oct. Tours begin at 6:30pm.
From late Oct - December there are extra Saturday tours on offer at 6.30pm, and from late Oct to late Nov you can take the tour on Friday evenings.
The tour can also be booked for Halloween, Thursday 31 October. All bookings are subject to availability.
The Jack The Ripper walking tour in London will last for 2 hours.
Wear shoes that are comfortable to walk in, and weather-appropriate clothing.
The Jack The Ripper tour can be enjoyed by almost anyone, as long as you are physically able to move from location to location. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.