Guest Post by Aaron Hanson
Happy Halloween! Today’s post is a spooky guest post out of London, England. Enjoy!
The Jack the Ripper murders are 130 years old this year, yet interest in this infamous Victorian murder mystery is as strong as ever. Maybe it’s the catchy name, or the fact the killer wasn’t caught or perhaps it’s the idea that the killer could have been a member of the royal family or a surgeon that has helped keep interest alive.
Any visitor to London who has an interest in dark history has no doubt been on one of the many Jack the Ripper tours that operate in the East End district of Whitechapel. However, what do you really know about London’s most macabre tour? Here are some quirky facts which may surprise you.
Quirky Facts About Jack the Ripper Tours
Jack the Ripper tours began in 1888
Although guided walking tours have been well known to have taken place for several decades they have in fact been running since the time of the murders. More startling is knowing that they ran while the killer was still loose. When the Ripper’s second victim was found on 8th September 1888, hundreds of onlookers emerged to see where the grisly deed had been committed. Residents of the surrounding buildings that overlooked the murder site charged window space to anyone wanting to watch the police conducting their investigations. From here locals were paid to show curious visitors where the first murder took place.
They run every night of the week
The Ripper story takes no rest and you can guarantee to take a tour around the murder sites on any day of the week, 365 days a year. Effectively this makes it London’s most consistent all year round walking tour. Even during the worst weather that the UK has to offer, you can always find small groups of tourists huddled in back alleys listening to London’s most infamous tale.
The doctor who conducted the post-mortems became a tour guide
In 1905, Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown became a tour guide for curious wealthy individuals seeking to learn more about Jack the Ripper. Dr Brown was a City police surgeon who conducted extensive post-mortems on several of the Whitechapel murder victims between 1888 and 1891. Among his list of clientele was Sherlock Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Curiously enough, Dr. Brown himself has been named as a possible suspect in the Ripper case and if this were true you could only imagine the gruesome delight he would have had taking unwary visitors around the sites of his actual crimes.
Historical or theatrical
There is no real set pattern to a Ripper tour. Depending on the guide they can be historically presented with a basic run down to the facts or they can be more elaborate with your guide coming dressed up and presenting the story in character. Over the decades there have been all different ways of telling the story, even though the medium of dance. One of the latest crazes is to shine projected images on to the walls around the streets of Whitechapel.
You will get a different ending every time.
One of the curious facts of the Jack the Ripper case was there was no DNA, no fingerprints and no signed confession. So if you are looking for positive proof of the killer’s identity then you will be in for a disappointment. However, this has left the door open for some superb and outrageous theories to develop as everyone played hunt the ripper for the last 130 years. One thing you can safely rely on a Ripper tour is the guide will give you his own personal theory which can be anywhere from an insane local man living in the area, right up to Queen Victoria herself. Your guess is as good as his and may even be more plausible.
What do you think of these tours? Has anyone taken one? And who do you think it could have been? Let me know in the comments!