Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mysterious London: Jack the Ripper

Last year Kerry Hammond traveled to Ireland and she blogged about her adventures on Mystery Playground. You can revisit her travels, which included a trip to the Trinity College Library and a walk through James Joyce’sDublin HERE. This year Kerry visited London and would like to tell us about all of the literary, and sometimes non-literary, things she experienced. Join us each Wednesday, until she runs out of stories, for a recap of her trip.

Today’s London story is about the city’s famous serial killer Jack the Ripper, also called the Whitechapel Murderer because the killings took place in the Whitechapel area of London starting in 1888. We took a night tour of some of the places where the Ripper’s victims were found, and where he is suspected to have prowled the night. Our tour guide was a former London policeman who wrote a book on the subject, so he was very knowledgeable and provided us with a lot of information. 

The Rippers victims were female prostitutes in the East End of London. Three of the victims had their internal organs removed, making it appear that the killer had a knowledge of anatomy and was possibly a physician. The places where the victims were found still exist, but have changed over time and are currently ordinary looking apartment buildings and shops.

Not surprisingly, the newspapers sensationalized the crimes. Even today, street art has immortalized the neighborhood where such gruesome events took place.

One of the most interesting things I learned was possibly one of the reasons that the killer was never caught. According to our guide, the murders were committed in two different police jurisdictions. The London Metropolitan Police and Scotland Yard’s sharing of knowledge and evidence was inconsistent and aided the Ripper in eluding both police departments. The intersection of these two police forces was right in the middle of the Ripper’s killing ground, and all he had to do was travel a few streets in one direction to leave one and enter another, causing the maximum amount of confusion.

The Ten Bells Public House on Commercial Street, built in the middle of the 18th Century was said to have been frequented by at least one of the Ripper’s victims, and possibly the Ripper himself.  

For more information, see Donald Rumbelow’s book The Complete Jack the Ripper. It was updated in 2013 to include new information and to reflect later discovered evidence.

Check out Kerry's last London post. You can also follow her on Twitter @kerryhammond88. You can find Mystery Playground @mysteryplayground. 


  1. Thanks Kerry. This sounds like a wonderful tour and great subject matter. I will have to check out that book.