Strangely, over the years, we have had more people faint on our Jack the Ripper Walk than on any other tour we offer. Obviously the ripper subject is a very gruesome one, and we do pass around the mortuary photographs of the victims, so this might account for the high number of faintees that the walk seems to provoke.
Yet, and this is where we it gets somewhat weird, many of those who have fainted have done so at exactly the same spot, the entrance into Mitre Square at the very end of the tour, when the most gruesome part of the tour, when we discuss the murder of Mary Kelly, has long since past.
Mitre Square was where the body of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim of Jack the Ripper, was found on 30th September 1888. This photograph shows the Square as it is today looking across it at the passageway where many of the faintings take place.
Now, as with all these things, there’s probably a perfectly rational explanation for the high incidence of people passing out here. Perhaps they haven’t eaten (some people don’t eat until after the tour), so their blood sugar is low and this, coupled with the distance walked and the, sometimes, chill in the air is responsible for their fainting? Or could it be that by the time they reach this passage the intensity of the storytelling – and Jack the Ripper walks are very much dependent on the guides ability to set the mood and build the tension – has immersed them in the subject so completely that they really are completely overcome by the horror of what they have heard?
Whatever the explanation, it just seems very odd that so many people who join a tour that takes in numerous streets and many sites should be overcome at the same spot. So much so, in fact, that our guides now pay particular attention to peoples faces when they arrive at the entrance to Mitre Square and, should they detect a change of colour or a slight sway in a member of their tour party, they will always intervene and ask the person if they are feeling unwell and would, therefore, like to sit down on one of the benches.