Jack the Ripper murder sites
Now if there’s one thing about living in London’s East End, it’s that you will almost certainly hear of Jack the Ripper.
The world’s most infamous serial killer of women has somehow turned into a sort of pantomime villain over the years since. Almost like the killer was taken from the pages of a penny dreadful and placed in our reality.
Although we may never know the identity of history’s most elusive fiend we do know all the murder sites, where they are and how to get to them.
Durward Street/Bucks Row – Whitechapel
Murder Site of Mary Ann Nichols 31st August 1888
The first ‘official’ victim according to police reports and historians was Mary ‘Polly’ Nicholls who was killed in the early hours of 31st August 1888. She had been drinking quite heavily and wandering the streets trying to find ‘doss money’ for the night. Durward Street didn’t always go by this name, at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders it was known as Bucks Row, a variation of its former name ‘Ducks Row’. Historians believe this was itself a shortening of its more exotic name ‘Ducking Pond Row’. It would seem that back in the early days this was the location of a real honest to goodness ducking pond.
Durward Street has changed massively and today the only landmark remaining from 1888 is the old school block, now saved from destruction and converted into flats. This is still a very dominant building and would have been one of the last sites seen by Mary Nichols on the night of her death. Her body would be found in a gateway underneath this old school house.
The rest of the area has been extensively redeveloped and no real evidence of the original street exists. A new Whitechapel over-ground station is now being built close to the murder site but you can go there as it gets dark, you can stand by the original wall and gaze up at the looming school house and for the briefest of seconds you could be back in 1888.
Hanbury Street – Spitalfields
Murder site of Annie Chapman 8th September 1888
Hanbury Street now rests in the heart of an extremely trendy east end and not far from the most famous of all Jack the Ripper pubs – “The Ten Bells “.
In the back yard of the house at 29 Hanbury Street, the mutilated body of Jack’s second victim was discovered. Annie Chapman had been kicked out of her Doss house for having no money for a bed. She wandered the streets and according to one eye witness was seen talking to a man outside the doorway of what would later be her murder site. Hanbury Street itself has of course been substantially changed and the entire side of the street on which number 29 would have stood is now no longer there, replaced with a car park for the nearby Truman brewery buildings.
The opposite side of the street has kept some of its original houses that were built by the French Huguenots around the 1780’s and the interiors are almost identical to that of number 29. If you pass by some dark night and see a door slightly open, I encourage a sneak peek through.
Henriques Street / Berner Street / Dutfields Yard
Murder site of Elizabeth Stride 30th September 1888
The name may have changed but the street is still there. In 1888 Henriques street was called Berner Street and just off it was Dutfields Yard, unfortunately now replaced by a school playground. It’s highly unlikely the children who innocently play there now would know their playground is connected the greatest murder mystery in history.
It was here on 30th September 1888 that the body of Swedish born Elizabeth Stride was discovered, the first victim in what became known as ‘the night of the double event’.
The yard was narrow with only one entrance in or out and at 1am Stride’s body was discovered 7 feet inside the gateway. When she was found, her body was still warm, her knees drawn up and a deep gash torn across her throat. No sign of a struggle existed and her clothes were undisturbed. No murder weapon was discovered, no footprints or blood marks were at the scene.
Murder site of Catherine Eddowes 30th September 1888
Mitre square still remains the most atmospheric of all the Jack the Ripper murder sites. It has undergone a lot of redevelopment in recent years but its original layout with the cobble stoned square has remained. It still captures the imagination and is a particular favourite of Ripper researchers and tour groups after dark.
When visiting the square at any time of the day you may catch a glimpse of a city worker grabbing a rest or a quick bite on the wooden bench placed in the square. They will of course not realize that just in front of their rest spot is where one of the most gruesome discoveries in the Jack the Ripper case was made.
At 1.45am on 30th September 1888, PC Edward Watkins was on patrol in the area when he strolled in to Mitre Square. Shining his lamp into the darkest corner he was horrified to find The Ripper’s 4th victim Catherine Eddowes.
She had been ripped up “like pig in the market” according to PC Watkins, her throat had been cut back to the bone, her insides taken out and placed by her shoulder and the killer had savagely attacked her face.
Murder site of Mary Jane Kelly 9th November 1888
Possibly the most gruesome murder was that of Mary Jane Kelly on 9th November 1888.
Her body was found in a small room off Dorset Street which ran from Commercial Street to Crispin Street with Itchy Park at one end and the Providence Row Night Refuge at the other. When Charles Booth produced his poverty map of London in 1889, Millers Court and Dorset Street received the lowest rating, black for ‘lowest class, vicious and semi-criminal’.
The street now lies in what is now the heart of the ultra-trendy Spitalfields. It certainly wasn’t the case back then though. In 1888 Dorset street had a seedy reputation as being the worst street in London, a place where the average police man wouldn’t venture unless in a team of four.
Half way down Dorset Street you had a very narrow courtyard alley leading to what was known as Millers Court.
This was a hard place and Mary Jane Kelly had a room here. She was found on the 9th November 1888 in her room and horribly mutilated. Where the ripper had in the past worked quickly, it would seem that the safety of the enclosed space had given him more time to work.
She had been butchered like an animal with more injuries than any of the previous victims.
The area has been heavily redeveloped and Millers Court no longer exists, replaced by a car park which runs alongside Whites Row which still has some contemporary warehouse buildings looming over.
Access to Dorset Street is now blocked off and even the name does not appear anywhere.
Why not visit these murder sites with one of our jack the Ripper tour guides and let us bring it all back to life with the aid of our Ripper Vision technology?