Visiting 13 Miller’s Court

In late 1889, a reporter from The New York Sun was taken on a tour of the Jack the Ripper murder site by a police officer whom he referred to as Inspector Harris, although that wasn’t his real name, as he had, in fact violated a direct order from the Police Commissioner that officers were under no circumstances to escort strangers into that district and to do so would render him liable to immediate dismissal if his offence was discovered.


His article was published in the paper on Sunday December the 8th 1889, and, barring some obvious embellishments, it does give an impression of how tenants who came after Mary Kelly found certain advantages in the notoriety that the room enjoyed :-

“As the Inspector spoke we turned from Commercial into Dorset Street and, after proceeding a few yards up that thoroughfare he led us
into a narrow passage between two squalid tenement houses.

At the end of this passage, just before the courtyard was reached, Mr. Harris rapped sharply upon a door.

“Who’s there?” growled a gruff voice from the interior, while two or three women appeared from the court and shrilly commented upon the ‘impidence’ of men calling themselves gentlemen rousing up poor people at that hour of the night, as if they didn’t have no rights in their own homes.

The Inspector’s response was to rap again more sharply than before and to say:

“Come, now, hurry up open the door.”

A view of the room where Mary Kelly, Jack the Ripper's last victim, was murdered.
Mary Kelly’s Room


The door was opened a crack, and the gruff voice began, “Who the —– ” and, upon recognising the visitor, underwent a most remarkable change.

“Oh, beggin’ your pardon, Mr. Inspector,” said a small, servile voice. “Excuse me fer keepin’ you wattin’. I hain’t got me clothes on.”

“Well, get ’em on, and be lively.”


Presently the door opened wide, and we entered a room about 10 by 12 feet, that was lighted by a tin lantern.

A bed, a chair, and washbasin were all the furniture.

The occupant of the room was a short, stout, middle aged man, with closely cropped hair and a bad face wreathed in most hypocritical smiles, caused by his delight at a visit from his friend the Inspector.

He wore the garb of a laborer.


“This is the place,” said Mr. Harris, “where Mary Jane Kelly was murdered last November. She was the one who was sliced all to pieces, you may remember, and distributed about the furniture.

Well, she was murdered on that bed, and that great stain on the wall is her blood.”


The bed, from which our host had just arisen and that was tumbled up as he had left it, was close against the wall and the pillow rested against the broad rusty brown stain the inspector had indicated.

“There’s more of it under the bed: see!”, said the occupant of the room, eagerly: and, taking up the lantern, he got down on his hands and knees and showed us another stain half the size of the bed blanket, on the floor.


“Where’s Kate?” asked the inspector, “she used to live with Mary Kelly before she was killed,” he explained to us.

Kate’s name was shouted from the door and transferred from one voice to another through the courtyard.

Presently a young woman entered the room out of breath from running.

Kate was not a bad-looking woman.

She was less than 30, she had good eyes, luxurious hair, and as handsome a set of teeth as one often sees.

She sat down on the edge of the bed and volubly assured us that she was the identical person who had lived there with the murdered woman.

They had paid a half crown per week rent; and, after Miss Kelly’s tragic demise, Kate said that she was forced to the outrageous extremity of paying the extortionate amount by herself.

“That was until he came to live with me. Now he pays half,” she concluded, indicating the man we had roused from slumber, and acknowledging the relations that existed between them in a most matter-of-fact-way.


We went out and left the short-haired man to turn out his light and get back into bed against the ghastly blood stain.

The woman escorted us to the street, where we presented her with a shilling or two, at the Inspector’s suggestion, just as the man’s voice, now gruff again, was heard to call her name.

“Kate, Kate,” she repeated impatiently. “It’s always ‘Kate.’ What’ll you do when you ain’t got no ‘Kate’?” she added coquettishly bestowing a smile upon Inspector Harris.


“And those people are actually compelled to live in that room with that fearful blood stain on the wall”, I asked the inspector, as we walked away. “Can’t they have it painted out or papered over?”

“Bless you,” returned our guide, “that stain pays their rent. Why, that woman Kate made application to have the room back while the police were in possession after the murder, and she’s made a good bit of money exhibiting it since.”

It was evident that Kate possessed reasonably strong nerves.