Of all the grisly stories scattered through the history of London, the one that still sticks in our minds the most is the legend of Jack the Ripper. It wasn’t long ago by London’s standards – less than 150 years ago – but it has settled firmly in our minds as an enduring image of the London of the late nineteenth century. The lanterns glowing dimly in the fog, the damp cobblestones of an East End alleyway glistening in the dark, a shriek in the night as another unfortunate prostitute meets a gory end…something about it captures our imaginations. Give yourself the shivers on your next visit by taking the original Jack the Ripper Walking tour with London Walks.
WHEN: Daily 7.30pm and Saturday afternoons at 3pm, all year round (except December 24 and 25).
WHERE: Starts outside Tower Hill tube station (District, Hammersmith & City, and Circle lines). Ends at The Ten Bells pub.
HOW MUCH: Adults £10, concession and London Walks discount card holders £8, children under 15 free.
This tour is known internationally, by everyone who’s in the know, as the original and best Jack the Ripper walking tour. It was put together by Donald Rumbelow, internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper. He wrote “The Complete Jack the Ripper” and has been consulted about the story for TV shows and movies for the past 35 years. Though Donald doesn’t lead every tour, he is still known to step in as guide on occasion and you might get lucky – you can also see his schedule on the London Walks website so you can time your visit to be guided by the best. Even if Don isn’t on duty, your guide still has the benefit of his decades of research – as well as the latest studies into what they call the “Autumn of Terror”, so you know that everything you learn is as accurate as it can possibly be.
The tour starts at Tower Hill because it marks the boundary between the territories of the City of London police force and Scotland Yard. The clashes between the two forces and their equally charismatic leaders muddled the Jack the Ripper investigation and slowed things down: in fact it might have been the reason why the Ripper was never caught. From Tower Hill you’ll walk a couple of minutes to your first stop: a spooky alleyway bordered by part of the original London Wall, grim dark and still. Your guide will take you around the murder sites, hidden in back alleys and courtyards around Whitechapel, as well as introducing you to the story of the case and all its pieces of evidence – so you can make up your own mind. Perhaps you’ll discover something new that everyone missed back in 1888 and in the ensuing 127 years.
The tour ends at a Victorian pub, The Ten Bells, preserved much as it was in August of 1888. The walls are decorated with photos and headlines from the period, to recreate the sense of impending doom that stalked the streets of the East End when the Ripper roamed at large. It was in this pub that one of the Ripper’s ill-fated victims used to drink: she was not the first, so she had time to hear the horrible rumours after the first murder on August 31, read the headlines and drown her sorrows before tragedy struck.
This walking tour has several copy-cats because of its international popularity, so make sure you’re with the London Walks tour before handing over your cash. It leaves at 7.30pm on the dot and never earlier. Enjoy the intriguing look into a grisly past – and the shivers down your spine. To enjoy the tour at it’s best have a healthy stay at one of the hotels listed in Premier Club Rewards.