Today we thought we’d take you on a photo journey through the streets of Spitalfields and Whitechapel so that you can see for yourselves what a great and atmospheric area it is.
We begin our journey through Jack the Ripper’s London on Whitechapel High Street where a few buildings have survived from 1888. Predominant amongst them is the White Hart Pub in the basement of which major suspect George Chapman worked as a barber in 1888.
Aside the pub is a deliciously spooky little alleyway. This was known as George Yard in 1888 and it was along its length that Martha Tabram, who may, or may not, have been the first victim of Jack the Ripper. The name of the thoroughfare has now been changed to Gunthorpe Street.
A stones throw away from Gunthorpe Street you will find a great Brick Lane Indian restaurant called the Sheraz. But in 1888 this was the Frying Pan pub and it was here that the woman who is generally acknowledged to have been the ripper’s first victim, Mary Nichols, was seen drinking shortly before her murder.
At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking that it has changed completely since the night when Mary sat down to her final drink here. But if you look up at the gable you’ll see two crossed frying pans and the buildings Victorian name Ye Frying Pan.
Carrying on along Brick Lane you encounter a series of streets that really do have the ambience of bygone London.
Fournier Street, for example, is lined by 18th century houses, all of which were around when Jack the Ripper roamed the East End Shadows.
Turning right from it into Wilkes Street you encounter the atmospheric Puma Court, a rare surviving examples of the type of narrow passageway with which the area was once riddled and which aided Jack the Ripper to commit his crimes and then disappear without trace.
Across the road from Puma Court is Princelet Street where, on the corner, is this sturdy old house that still looks down on the comings and goings of local residents much as it has done since its construction in the 1880’s.
The next Street along is Hanbury Street. This is where Jack the Ripper’s second victim, Annie Chapman was murdered on 8th September 18888 and, although the side of the street where her killing occurred was pulled down some years back, the north side of the street is still, more or less, the same. Indeed, at its junction with Wilkes Street is this building which has survived from the 1888 September morning when Annie and her killer would have passed it before crossing the road to number 29 in the back yard of which her body was found at 6am.
Two final locations from the area are the Ten Bells pub on Commercial Street and Christchurch Spitalfields, which stands opposite. These are best viewed from the top floor of the White’s Row Car park on the opposite side of Commercial Street.
It’s amazing how much of the area has survived since 1888 and when you explore it by night, which is when our Jack the Ripper Tour takes place, you really do get the feeling of what it was like to walk around here when the ripper was stalking the shadows.