Dorset Street is no more. Indeed, it has long since vanished in both name and presence, and it is now nothing more than a nameless thoroughfare that squeezes between the White’s Row Car Park on its eastern side, and a block of food warehouses and offices on its western side.
Two buildings still look down upon it that have survived from 1888 when it sprang into a brief notoriety with the murder there of Mary Kelly, the last victim of Jack the Ripper, who was murdered in her room Miller’s Court, which was reached via an arched passageway off Dorset Street.
The two buildings in question are, the former Providence Row Night shelter, which still looms over the northern end of what was once Dorset Street, and which is now student accommodation for the London School of Economics, and Christchurch Spitalfields, the gleaming white tower of which is still very much a local landmark just as it was in 1888.
It is as sobering thought when you consider that each one of Jack the Ripper’s victims would have looked up at this prominent church tower on an almost daily basis, and, on our Jack the Ripper Tour, we point out how it is a link between our modern age and the autumn of 1888 when the Jack the Ripper murders took place.
Who knows, perhaps even Jack the Ripper himself would have looked up at its gleaming bulk as he fled from the scene of the murder of Mary Kelly in Miller’s Court.
Dorset Street had the reputation for being one of the most crime-ridden and densely populated streets in the East End of London.
It has been claimed that the Metropolitan Police Officers, whose beat incorporated Dorset Street wouldn’t walk along it unless they were several strong.
As a result of this the local populace knew it as “Do as you will” or “Do as you please street.” The Daily Mail, however, pulled no punches and, in an article written in the early 20th century, referred to it quite simply as “the worst street in London.” High praise indeed.
You can, if you wish visit Dorset Street and stand on the site of what was the entrance to Miller’s Court on our nightly Jack the Ripper Walk around the streets of London’s East End.