A Look Back At 2016

This year’s blogs have covered a wide variety of subjects and have ranged from Jack the Ripper quizzes, to video tours of the murder sites, plus articles on many of the other murders that took place throughout London in the 19th century.

With 2016 now ebbing to its close, I thought I’d look back through the various blogs and videos that have featured here during the year, and choose three from each month that I found particularly interesting and which I derived a great deal of satisfaction out of researching and writing.

So, without further ado, here is my look back at some of my favourite blogs and videos from 2016.

THE JANUARY BLOGS AND VIDEOS

SIR WILLIAM GULL

One of the first blogs of 2016 featured a much maligned Jack the Ripper suspect, Sir William Gull. Poor old Sir William, is the favoured suspect of many who favour a Royal connection to the murders, and his name has been put forward as the perpetrator of the crimes in both the Michael Caine TV film, and the Johnny Depp film From Hell.  This blog tried to right the injustice that I feel has been done to him. Read the blog.

THE MARY NICHOLS MURDER SITE

Also in January, I trialled a new way of bringing the streets of Jack the Ripper’s London to our website and headed out to shoot a short film that would show visitors the murder sites then and now.

The first one that was filmed, was the Mary Nichols murder site in Buck’s Row.

THE MURDER OF LUCY CLARKE

One of the things I’ve tried to do this year is report on other murders that took place around London prior to and after the Jack the Ripper crimes. An early article on these other murders dealt with the murder of Lucy Clarke, which occurred in January 1888. Read the full article.

THE FEBRUARY BLOGS

THE RAGGED SCHOOL MOVEMENT

The 19th century saw a huge effort made to solve the problems that were endemic in Victorian society. Education was perceived as being massively important if the spectre of mass poverty was to be eradicated from the land, and the Ragged School movement was at the forefront of a genuine attempt to alleviate the suffering of the poor by educating them.

In February we took a look at the history of the Ragged School movement.

You can read the full article here.

THE MURDER OF AMELIA JEFFS

In the late 19th century, several girls went missing from the district of West Ham, in the East End of London. The fate of only one of them was discovered when the body of Amelia Jeffs was found in an upper room of a house in Portway. At the end of February, we published a series of blogs that tracked the case as it unfolded. The blogs also looked at the other “Vanishing children” of West Ham.

Read the story of Amelia Jeffs murder.

JACK THE RIPPER THEMED STREET ART

A bowler hatted figure holding a bloody knife and challenging "Catch me if you can."
You Can Catch This One on New Goulston Street

One of the great things about the East End of London is the amount of terrific street art that has been appearing all over the area in recent years. Inevitably, some of that art is themed around Jack the Ripper; and so, in February, we took a look at some of this art.

Read the article.

THE MARCH BLOGS

HOOKEY ALF OF WHITECHAPEL

In March we began looking at some of the “characters” who frequented the streets, and the pubs, of Whitechapel in the latter years of the 19th century.

One such character was know as “Hookey Alf” and we told his inspiring story in this blog.

THE GRAVE OF DR. REES RALPH LLEWELLYN

One of the more intriguing things that can be done in the East End of London is to pay a visit to the graves of the various people connected with the Jack the Ripper case.

So, throughout 2016, we have been publishing articles that give directions to, and provide a history of, the graves of some of those connected to the case.

In March we took a trip to visit the grave of Rees Ralph Llewellyn, the doctor who was fetched to the scene of the murder of Mary Nichols on August 31st 1888.

Here’s the article.

Illustrated Police News articles shoing the murder of Mary Nichols.
The Report on the Murder of Mary Nichols

THE ATTACK ON ADA WILSON

It is highly unlikely that Jack the Ripper, whoever he may have been, just started his murders with the killing of Mary Nichols.

Indeed, there were several murders and attacks earlier in 1888 that may well have been the work of the ripper.

Once such outrage was the attack on Ada Wilson in March 1888 and, on its anniversary, we took a close look at the crime.

Read the article here.

THE BLOGS AND VIDEOS FOR APRIL

THE MURDER OF EMMA ELIZABETH SMITH

April 1888 saw the attack on Emma Elizabeth Smith, the first actual Whitechapel Murders victim.

So, in early April, we took a close look at how the newspapers throughout the country reported on her death.

Read the article.

A JACK THE RIPPER CSI

One of the main things that distinguished our tour from other tours is the fact that we are the only company that produces our own detailed documentaries on the case.

In April, we launched out new series “The Jack The Ripper CSI” in which we brought together a panel of experts to discuss how the police investigation into the murders was handled.

You can watch it again on the following video.

WHITECHAPEL WAXWORKS

One of the curious things about the Whitechapel murders is that, even whilst the atrocities were occurring, and causing a great deal of terror and unrest in the district, people were also flocking to various waxworks on the Whitechapel Road, to see recreations of the murders.

At the end of April we put these waxworks under our historic spotlight.

You can see the results in this article.

THE MAY BLOGS

THE SUICIDE OF ROBERT SEYMOUR

As well as our nightly Jack the Ripper tour, we also conduct walks around the London of Charles Dickens.

And so, in August, we ventured into the early career of Victorian London’s greatest novelist to bring you a story of a terrible tragedy that marred the publication of his first major success Pickwick Papers, the suicide of his illustrator Robert Seymour.

You can read the details here.

WHY DETECTIVES DON’T DETECT

With the unknown perpetrator of the murders in Whitchapel, apparently, running rings around the Metropolitan Police, The Pall Mall Gazette went on the offensive and informed its readers of the reasons “Why Detectives Don’t Detect.”

You can read their reasoning in this article.

THE SPITALFIELDS DISASTER

On Tuesday the 18th of January 1887, a false cry of “Fire” at a theatre in Prince’s Street, Spitalfields, led to a stampeded which left 17 people dead.

You can read the full story in this blog.

Police lay the bodies of the victims out.
From The Illustrated Police News. Copyright, The British Library Board.

THE BLOGS FOR JUNE

A BRUTAL ASSAULT BY A POLICEMAN

The majority of the Victorian Metropolitan Police Officers were, without doubt, upright and upstanding professionals who did a difficult job against, sometimes, impossible conditions.

However, and inevitably, there were a few bad apples amongst their numbers and, in June, we took a look at the case of Police Constable Hug Brady, who was sent to prison for assaulting a member of the public.

Read the story.

TALK LIKE A VICTORIAN EASTENDER

One of the things that people, myself included, often express a desire to do, is go back in time and see what it was actually like in the streets of Whitechapel at the time of Jack the Ripper.

Since communicating with the locals would be the key to surviving the trip – or the ordeal – we decided to enlighten readers with a phraseblog of Victorian slang.

Get started with this article!

WILLIAM ONIONS THE EAST END POET

One of the more intriguing characters I encountered on trawl through the Victorian newspapers in search of stories to blog about, was William “Spring” Onions, who the press dubbed “The East End Poet.”

Onions clocked up a record breaking number of court appearances for his drunk and disorderly behaviour.

However, during one of his enforced respites at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, he discovered poetry, gave up drink, and took to arriving unannounced before various magistrates to treat them to his latest masterpiece.

Discover his story and his poetry in this article.

THE JULY BLOGS

THE MISS CASS CASE

An illustration showing PC Endacott arresting Miss Cass.
Police Constable Endacott Arrests Miss Cass. From The Illustrated Police News. Copyright, The British Library Board.

Late on the evening of June 28th 1887, Miss Elizabeth Cass went out to buy a pair of gloves from a shop on Oxford Street.

That shopping trip was rudely interrupted by Police Constable Endacott who arrested her on suspicion of being a prostitute and hauled her up before the Magistrate Mr. Newton at Marlborough Police Court.

The case caused an absolute sensation, and led to an official enquiry which was overseen by the Police Commissioner himself, Sir Charles Warren.

Read about the case in this article.

THE SUICIDE OF DR. THOMAS BOND

Dr Thomas Bond’s profile of the man who was most likely to have been committing the Whitechapel murders is considered to be one of the earliest examples of criminal profiling.

Bond’s name crops up time and time against in various Victorian murder cases, and yet, on Thursday June 6th 1901, he committed suicide by throwing himself from the window of his apartment close to Westminster Abbey.

You can re-read the story in this blog.

ISRAEL LIPSKI AND THE MIRIAM ANGEL MURDER

In July 1887, a particularly nasty murder occurred in Batty Street, just off Commercial Road, in the East End of London.

Miriam Angel was found murdered in the rooms she shared with her husband.

It appeared that some form of acid had been forced down her throat.

As the doctor was examining her, the police discovered the perpetrator, Israel Lipski, hiding under the bed.

You can read the article in this blog.

THE AUGUST BLOGS

THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF FRANCIS TUMBLETY

In August we were lucky enough to have as a gust blogger Michael L. Hawley who shared with us his research into prime Jack the Ripper suspect Dr. Francis Tumblety.

You can read Michael’s article here.

POLICE CONSTABLE BLOY

By early 1888, the newspapers were beginning to calm down after the fiasco in which Police Constable Endacott had arrested Miss Elizabeth Cass on suspicion of being a prostitute.

However, in January 1888, Police Constable Bloy caused a similar press furore when he arrested Annie Coverdale and accused her of being drunk.

The full story can be read in this article.

The illustration in the Pall Mall Gazette.
From The Pall Mall Gazette, Saturday 11th February 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A chilling subject, that we talk about on our London Ghost Walk, is the number of the people who, in the past, were buried alive.

So, in August, we delved into the archives for stories of those people who, having been declared dead, surprised their contemporaries by making a return from the dead.

Read the article.

BLOGS FROM SEPTEMBER

THE MURDER OF POLICE CONSTABLE ERNEST THOMPSON

As mentioned earlier, the majority of Victorian police officers did an extraordinary job, often against extraordinarily difficult conditions.

Several of them paid the ultimate price and were murdered in the line of duty.

One such officer was Police Constable Ernest Thompson, who was stabbed to death in Whitechapel in early December 1900.

You can read the story here.

MISS TOTTIE FAY

Tottie Fay, was another Victorian courtroom character who managed to clock up a huge number of appearances before various magistrates on charges of being drunk and disorderly.

Although on first reading about her antics you cannot resists smiling, as you delve deeper into her history you begin to see the tragedy of a life blighted by drink and its ruinous effects.

Read About Tottie Fay.

A sketch showing Tottie Fay Dancing.
Tottie Fay as depicted by The Illustrated Police News, 11th June 1892. Copyright, The British Library Board.

THAMES MUD BUTTER

In the East End of London in 1888, the slang term “Thames Butter” was used to denote very cheap and nasty butter that may, or may nor, have been adulterated with all manner of stomach-churning ingredients.

The term originated with reports in 1870 that a French Chemist had mastered the art of producing butter from the mud of the River Thames!

Read the story if you dare!

BLOGS FOR OCTOBER

THE MARY PEARCEY BLOGS

On 24th of October 1890 Mary Pearcey murdered Phoebe Hogg, the wife of her lover Frank Hogg. The horror of the case was added to when it was revealed that she had also murdered the couples 18 month old daughter Phoebe Hanslope Hogg. Over the course of three blogs we followed the crime from the arrest of Mary Pearcey, through her trial and on to her execution.

Click here for the first of the Mary Pearcey blogs.

Illustrations showing the finding of the body of Mrs Phoebe Hogg.
How The Illustrated Police News Reported The Murder On 1st November 1890. Copyright, The British Library Board.

WHITECHAPEL WAY

It can be difficult for us to imagine what the streets of the East End of London were like at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. Fortunately, there were plenty of journalists who, in 1888, decided to venture into the mean streets of Whitechapel and then regaled their readers with vivid accounts of what they saw.

One such article appeared in The Graphic and we reproduced the full article in a popular October blog.

Read the article entitled Whitechapel Way.

SELLING DEAD PAUPERS

Everybody knows that life in a Victorian Workhouse was anything but pleasant. But, in 1858, a huge scandal erupted when a workhouse master was tried at the Old Bailey charged with having sold the bodies of dead paupers to an anatomy school for his own personal profit.

You can read the full horrible history here.

BLOGS FROM NOVEMBER

AN INTERVIEW WITH MARK HODGSON

Looking along the alley of Miller's Court.

One of my favourite blogs of the month was when Mark Hodgson agreed to be interviewed about his wonderful recreations of Miller’s Court and its surrounding buildings. He also shared many photographs of his work. A great read.

You can read the Mark Hodgson interview here.

THE MURDER OF MARIE DAMYON

On the 17th of November 1894, Marie Damyon was murdered at a coffee shop in Thomas Street, literally just around the corner from the spot where the body f Mary Nichols had been found on August 31st 1888. We featured the full story in a blog on the anniversary of here murder.

You can read the blog here.

THE POLICE REVOLT OF 1890

In July, 1890, unrest in the ranks of the Metropolitan Police led several constables attempting to take strike action. This, in turn led to rioting around Bow Street and Covent Garden.

The full story is told in this blog.

THE DECEMBER BLOGS

THE WORMWOOD SCRUBS MURDER

Depictions of Cooke saying goodbye to his father and his sisters and dreaming about the murder.
The Final Days Of George Cooke. From The Illustrated Police News. Copyright, The British Library Board.

In June 1893 a murder occurred that really did cause widespread shock throughout Victorian London. The most shocking aspect of the crime was that it was carried out by a serving police officer whilst on duty.

Read the full account.

WORKHOUSE REPORTS

One institution that loomed large in the lives of several of Jack the Ripper’s victims was the Victorian Workhouse. Since they were such a part of the social history of the age, we decided to take a close look at the stories of some of the people associated with them.

You can read the reports in this blog.

THE CARBOLIC SMOKE BALL

With influenza raging throughout Europe between 1889 and 1894, the Carbolic Smoke Ball company promised a reward of £100 to anybody who, having used their smoke ball, came down with the flu. However, when a lady claimed the reward they tried every trick in the book not to pay up and, in so doing, changed consumer law.

Read the story in this blog.

FAREWELL TO 2016

And so, the year draws to its close and 2017 approaches.

I hope you have enjoyed this little summary of the 2016 blogs that have appeared on the website and that the blogs in general have proved both useful and interesting to you.

We’ve got some great blogs coming in 2017, so be sure to stay tuned to our Facebook page for notification of the blogs and their subjects as and when they appear.