Friday, 4 February 2011

A Jack the Ripper Walk

On Wednesday night I took a Jack the Ripper Walk around the East End of London. Now when I say I took the walk I don't mean I pitched up and traipsed around the streets where the Jack the Ripper murders occurred, but rather that I was the guide who led the walk.

It's been a while since I've actually led a Jack the Ripper Walking Tour, but to be back in those old alleyways again was truly nostalgic. Inevitably the question came up as to whether or not any of the sites where Jack the Ripper committed his murders is haunted?

Well the honest answer is "I don't know." By "I don't know" I mean that I personally have not seen any ghosts lurking around the Jack the Ripper murder sites. But then again, most of the time when I visit the murder sites I am in the company of around 34 people who I am guiding around the East End, which probably isn't that conducive to a phantom appearance.

However, there are certainly tales aplenty that concerning strange goings on at the places in Whitechapel and Spitalfields that are associated with Jack the Ripper.

Hanbury Street, for example, where Annie Chapman - the second victim of Jack the Ripper - was murdered in the back Yard of number 29, is now occupied by an unsightly former brewery building. The murder site itself no longer exists, but some sort of psychic trace reputedly lingers in the ether of where the murder site stood and, in the days of the brewer, it was said that the air in the brewery would turn deathly cold on the anniversary of Annie Chapman's murder, which was on the 8th September 1888.

Ooh, the air here has just turned decidedly cold and I have come out in goosebumps!

Just around the corner from Hanbury Street is the Ten Bells Pub which features in the Jack the Ripper story in that several of his victims are said to have drunk at this veritable old hostelry.

The pub has recently undergone a major refurbishment and is now unrecognizable as the down at heel place it was twelve or so months ago. Back then the exterior was very shabby indeed. In some places the paint peeled of the walls and in other the walls peeled off the paint. But no longer. The Ten Bells has been given a face lift and is now as handsome an East End boozer as you could wish to find.

Whether, the refit has rid the place of its ghosts only time will tell.

Not so long ago staff rooming on the pubs upper levels frequently commented on sightings of a ghostly old man dressed in Victorian clothing. More alarming were the times when they would wake up in the early hours, roll over and find his spectral form lying alongside them!

New staff, who had no knowledge of this ghostly visitor, would eventually encounter him, and, when asked to describe him, their descriptions would always tally with those given by previous staff who had had the honour of meeting the pub's oldest resident!

So yes, there are reportedly several ghost lurking in the shadows of Jack the Ripper's London and, despite the fact they seem relatively harmless, their antics certainly have the ability to send a shiver down the spine and a chill to the marrow!

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