Travel Tuesday: Jack the Ripper and a Walking Tour of Whitechapel

by - October 20, 2020

Today, I am taking you away from Essex for a special Travel Tuesday to Whitechapel, London. Whitechapel has a shady past, originally being the poorer district of London, it's no stranger to crime. With names such as Jack the Ripper, George Chapman and the Kray twins coming from this area,  it's an area so deeply embedded in my interests, of course I had to visit!

The first thing I will say, is if this sort of walking tour interests you, be respectful. Some of the areas you walk through are residential and you need to be aware that just because people live in these areas, they're not all ripperologists. Some think the walks are disrespectful and aren't scared to voice their opinions. The second point I'd like to make, make sure you go with a buddy with the same interests. If you're just going for an educational 'something to do' that's fine, but it's a lot of information, so the more you know before you go on the walk, the easier it'll be for you to follow what your guide is saying.

I'm lucky enough to have a wonderful friend who has the same morbid interests as me, and was more than willing to take a trip! We walked around London a bit before, and were planning to visit The Ripper Museum, but by the time we made it over to Whitechapel, it was closing, so we skipped the museum, grabbed a Starbucks and took a walk.

It's only a short walk up Whitechapel High Street from Whitechapel underground station to The Blind Beggar Pub. It's a huge great british pub, built in 1894, on the grounds of an inn that had been there for at least 200 years before that. It's a completely uninteresting location, unless of course, you are familiar with the crimes of the Krays, because this is the very pub in which Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell dead in front of witnesses. It's the kind of location that if you don't know, you wouldn't guess it had a gruesome past.

After a brief visit to The Blind Beggar, we made our way back down the High Street to Aldgate East station where we met our group and our Jack the Ripper tour began. 

From Aldgate East we walked around to another pub (what can I say? Us Brits love a drink!) This time, it was the White Hart Pub.  From here, we walked down the side passage and around Whitechapel, Spitalfields and the city of London.

We walked through the streets of some of London's worse murders, although most of the layout has changed greatly in the last 129 years, our guide pointed out buildings that would have been there in 1888, and showed us numerous photos to help us understand the conditions of the areas at the time. The tour was punctured with interesting facts about the area, including showing us a street used in a lot of period dramas (such as The Woman in Black), or a building that has been used as a church, synagogue and a mosque, one of only two such buildings in the world!

It was fascinating to learn about the Jack the Ripper case. As someone that has had more than a passing interest since the tender age of 8, it was a surprise to me that even I learnt something that night. If a history of true crime is your thing, I wholeheartedly recommend the walk. It was nice to have other, more lighthearted facts thrown in, just to relieve the tension if nothing else.

It doesn't matter how many documentaries I have watched or how many books I have read, nothing gives you a truer sense of the Ripper case than actually visiting the area. It opens your eyes to how close each of the crimes were and definitely makes it feel more real. I cannot recommend it enough.

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