The East End of London can be a truly surprising place to discover. It is a part of the Capital that few visitors venture in to. But this who take the trouble to stray past the well worn tourist attractions are in for a real treat.
Of course most people who come to this part of London do so to take the Jack the Ripper Walking Tour and that is, primarily, what we are about. But, even on the walk our clients discover things, aside from the story of the infamous 1888 murders that really do intrigue them.
Take the knot of streets that nestle behind Christchurch Spitalfields for example. These are lined by sturdy 18th century houses that were built for the Huguenots, master silk weavers who conducted their trade in the upper rooftop rooms of the houses. These attics are still visible today and, when they are pointed out to people on our tour, they really are fascinated to see these survivors from bygone London.
The there’s the Ten Bells Pub, a must for anyone who is interested in the history of the East End or in the Jack the Ripper crimes themselves. The pub was a favoured haunt of several of the victims and the tiling inside is still much as it was in 1888.
On the opposite side of the road from the pub is Spitalfields Market, now a wonderful craft and bric-à-brac market which also boasts some wonderful restaurants. This had opened in 1887, the year before the commencement of the Whitechapel Murders. Today, when you explore its cavernous interior you are seeing a place that those long ago Victorian citizens would still recognise.
Back across Commercial Street, the soaring white tower of Christchurch Spitalfields still dominates its surroundings, just as it did back in 1888. It really is a breathtaking spectacle that links are age with that of Jack the Ripper’s age.
So, in this little knot of streets, all of which can be walked around in the space of about fifteen minutes you have so many buildings that have survived the march of time and progress, and which really do transport you back in time to the teeming streets of Victorian London.