The Haunted House In Dorset Street

As regular readers of my blogs will know, I am fascinated by the 19th century newspapers, particularly with regard to the coverage that they gave to the Victorian East End.

I’ve always felt that it is important to look beyond the Jack the Ripper crimes, and to take a more holistic approach to studying the East End as it was at the time of the murders.

I recently came upon the following story, that appeared in The East End News and London Shipping Chronicle on Friday the 18th of October 1907.

It is a story about a house in Dorset Street, Spitalfields, which will be familiar to students of the Whitechapel murders as the location at which Jack the Ripper claimed the life of his final victim, Mary Jane Kelly.

The story read:-

THE “HAUNTED HOUSE” IN DORSET STREET

Mr. Wynne Edwin Baxter held an inquest at the Whitechapel Infirmary on Tuesday with reference to the death of Margaret Springett, aged 47 years, the wife of a hawker, who died from chronic alcoholism.

A daughter of the deceased said that they had been living at 31 Dorset street, which was called the “haunted house.”

A skecth showing people in Dorset Street.
A View Of Dorset Street.

WHY WAS IT SO CALLED?

The Coroner quizzed her as to why it was called the haunted house.

“I don’t know,” was the daughter’s reply.

A juror suggested to the Coroner that it was perhaps because a murder had been committed there?

The Coroner, replied:- “I should not be surprised to hear so.”

TURNED OUT THREE WEEKS AGO

The witness continued that they were turned out of the house three weeks ago.

The Witness went to Gun street, a sister went to Flower and Dean Street, and her father went to somewhere in Brick Lane.

FOUND HER MOTHER OUTSIDE

The witness added that, on Wednesday morning, she had found her mother surrounded by a crowd outside the “haunted house.”

She was removed to the Infirmary.

THE HUSBAND’S EVIDENCE

William John Springett, the husband of the deceased, said that they couldn’t pay the rent, and were turned out of the “haunted house.”

He didn’t know where his wife had lived since.

She used to drink, and couldn’t eat, but he didn’t know where she got the money from to buy the drink.

At times she seemed to be a bit “looney.”

THE VERDICT

After hearing further evidence, the Coroner remarked that it apreared to be “another illustration of life in Spitalfields,” and a verdict of death from natural causes was returned by the jury.