There can be no doubt about it, Whitechapel in the 19th century posed all manner of dangers to unsuspecting citizens who might chance into the area in order to mingle with the locals.
All manner of cases, such as that of Carl Edwin Henman, who was robbed at a common lodging house in the notorious enclave of Flower and Dean Street in October 1888, came before the courts and were reported in the newspapers of the age.
Then there was the case of Percy Greathead, who, making his way to Buck’s Row, where the murder of Mary Nichols had occurred, found himself under attack from the locals who thought that he might be Jack the Ripper!
THE DANGERS OF WHITECHAPEL
But the dangers of Whitechapel were not just confined to the period around which the Whitechapel murders were occurring. In fact, the dangers of the district – which was seen by many as one of the most dangerous districts in Victorian London – had been rife for many decades prior to the onset of the atrocities, and those dangers would remain for many decades after the crime spree had ended.
On Saturday the 28th of December, 1918, The Leeds Mercury reported the case of a woman who appears to have had a lucky escape when she paid a visit to Whitechapel:-
A BEDROOM FRIGHT
WOMAN’S CURIOUS EXPERIENCE AFTER A GLASS OF STOUT
A respectably dressed woman, charged with being drunk in Whitechapel, told the magistrate a curious story.
She said she went into a public house for a glass of stout.
Whilst there, two men and a woman entered into conversation with her and invited her home.
SHE ACCOMPANIED THEM TO A HOUSE
She accompanied them to a house which was very dirty and without a fire.
The woman said that she would get some dinner, and, meanwhile, ushered her into an untidy bedroom and invited her to remove her jacket. She was about to do so when she noticed what appeared to be a human form under the clothes of the bed.
Becoming alarmed, she rushed from the house.
SHE COULD POINT THEM OUT
The defendant added that she did not live in the neighbourhood, and she did not know the name of the public house or that of the street in which the private house was situated.
She, however, thought that she could point them out.
The Magistrate:- “Did you lose your money?”
Defendant:- “No, but the woman saw where I put it.”
She denied being drunk, although the constable in the case said that she smelt of spirits.
The magistrate discharged the defendant and asked that inquiries should be made.