Yesterday I ended the blog with one of those wonderful old cliché cliff-hangers TO BE CONTINUED.
My adventures in Ripper land last week took me to Chiswick Mall where the body of a major Jack the Ripper suspect Montague John Druitt was found floating in the River Thames on the last day of the year 1888.
His inquest was held at the Lamb and Tap pub just off Chiswick Mall. The Lamb and Tap is no longer a pub but, in common with many of the older pubs around the Mall, has been converted into a private house.
The fact he had committed suicide soon after the murder of Mary Kelly, the last of Jack the Ripper’s victims – whose body was found in Miller’s Court, Spitalfields on 9th November 1888 – led police officer Melville Macnaghten to the conclusion that Druitt had been Jack the Ripper.
Druitt had been dismissed from his position as a teacher at the Valentines Academy, Blackheath in South London on 30th November 1888 and he had, probably, committed suicide shortly afterwards.
So how did his body come to be in the Thames off Chiswick Mall?
Well, one of the houses on the Mall is called Osiers. It is a tall, creamy brown building that dates from the 1770’s.
In 1888 Osiers was the home of Harry Wilson, a member of the Cambridge Conversazione Society, which was more commonly known as The Apostles.
A number of the members were prominent men who were, secretive, homosexuals.
Wilson’s house on Chiswick Mall acted as a “chummery” where members of the society were welcome any time of the day or night.
It has been suggested that Druitt may also have been a member of The Apostles and that, following his dismissal from the school in Blackheath, he had come to Osiers to seek Wilson’s assistance. The theory goes that the reason for his dismissal from Valentines Academy may have been connected to his homosexuality and that Wilson, wishing to keep any whiff of scandal at bay, had refused assistance, which in turn led Druitt to commit suicide.
Of course all this is little more than theory and speculation.
Yet there is an intriguing, seeming coincidental, link between Chiswick Mall and the actual Jack the Ripper Murders. Just a few seconds walk away form Osiers there is a modern housing development, the houses of which date from around the late 1980’s.
They stand on a private road which someone has named Miller’s Court.
Miller’s Court was, of course, the place where Mary Kelly, the last of Jack the Ripper’s victims, was murdered on the 9th November 1888. I can’t help wondering if it is a complete coincidence that a modern road, that stands close to the reach of the Thames where the body of one of the major contenders for the mantle of Jack the Ripper was found, should share its name with the location of what may have been that suspects final murder.
I wonder if the person responsible knew something of the ripper-related history of this picturesque location and, in so naming it, was tipping a ghoulish nod to Chiswick Mall’s connection to the infamous 1888 murders of Jack the Ripper?