Kathleen Blake Watkins Visits Miller’s Court

In early 1892, the Irish-Canadian newspaper journalist Kathleen Blake Watkins – known to her readers as “Kit” – toured the Jack the Ripper murder sites researching for her “Woman’s Kingdom” column in The Toronto Mail about life in London

Her article about her experiences was published in the newspaper on the 27th of February 1892, and this is what she had to say about Miller’s Court:-


The most fearful of all these fearful places is Dorset Street, Spitalfields, where, in a dismal court, the entrance to which is so narrow that but one can pass at a time, the woman Kelly was so terribly butchered some years ago.

Murder broods over the place.


A woman who is called “Lottie” lives in the room where the crime was committed – it is a dark, narrow room opening on the court, with no communication with the upstairs part of the tenement house.

“I was her friend,” said Lottie, speaking with difficulty because of a broken and battered nose given her by a kick from her husband’s heavy boot, “and two nights before the murder she came to my room. I was living farther up the court then, and ‘Lottie,’ says she, ‘I’m afraid to be alone tonight because of a dream I had that a man was murdering me. Maybe I’ll be the next.’

She said it with such a laugh, ma’am, that it just made me creep – ‘they say Jack’s busy again down this quarter,’ and sure enough, ma’am, she was the next. I heard her through the night singing – she had a nice voice – ‘The violets that grow on mother’s grave’ – but that was all we ‘urd.”

A sketch of Mary Kelly's room in Miller's Court.
Mary Kelly’s Room, Miller’s Court. From Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 22nd September, 1907. Copyright, The British Library Board.


The woman seemed to have no repugnance to sleeping in the room, although the black stains on the walls, and the mark of a man’s head near the window, were gruesome sights.

She began a graphic description of the murdered woman’s appearance, but we stopped her.


Other women began to gather presently, and they grew voluble and seemed to gloat over the hideous details like birds of prey.

They had hard, hard faces with an evil look on them – the demands for money for beer, the curses, profane language, jokes about the awful fiend who had done his deadly work there; the miserable, shrewd faced children listening eagerly – it was all horrible beyond expression.


There was a sort of apathetic, matter of fact wickedness about the women that had a fearful aspect.

There was no flaunting, no sign of feeling because so many of their number had met with dreadful deaths.

There was only a dull, everyday sort of expression of immorality on their faces and in their manners, as though such things as vice and murder were common matters and to be expected at any time, that was inexpressibly shocking.

The only sign of feeling shown was when the beer appeared, and they all clustered greedily round to drink it.