Our original Aldgate East Jack the Ripper Tour has been introducing people to the World's most infamous whodunit for over 32 years and, in so doing, has gained an unrivalled reputation for the quality of the walk, the atmosphere of the route, and the expertise of the guides who, between them, have written ten acclaimed books on the Whitechapel Murders.
We're even singled out in the pages of the ultimate reference work on the crimes The Complete Jack the Ripper A to Z which hails us as "..London's best walking tour guides".
To receive an endorsement like that from one of the most revered tomes on the case is the ultimate accolade and is genuine international recognition for the quality of our walk.
As well as having written books on the subject, our guides have also been called upon to act as expert contributors to almost every television documentary about the murders over the last sixteen years, and we remain the only walking tour company to have produced our own critically applauded documentaries on the case.
Richard Jones's Book
In addition, we are the only company that limits the size of our groups to a sensible and manageable number of participants, which ensures that, when you join our tour, you are part of an intimate group of like-minded enthusiasts with whom you can discuss the case, make observations and enjoy a truly captivating journey through the Victorian East End, in the course of which you will explore the twists and turns of a sequence of unsolved murders that have been captivating the imaginations of generations of true crime aficionados for over 126 years.
When you also consider the fact that our tour begins at the very heart of the area in which the Whitechapel murders occurred - and, as a result, is able to follow a route that enables you to witness the mystery as it unfolds - you begin to see why it is that thousands of satisfied clients agree wholeheartedly with the aforementioned A to Z that, when it comes to Jack the Ripper, we truly do offer the best London walking tours on the case bar none.
Welcome to the autumn of 1888, one of the most infamous year's in the history of the East End of London.
The streets, alleyways, passageways and courtyards are being terrorised by a murderous maniac who history will come to remember as Jack the Ripper.
Tonight, accompanied by our expert guides, all of whom are recognised as being amongst the World's leading authorities on the case, you are going to be transported back to that long ago era, when the cobbled thoroughfares through which you will be walking echoed to the sounds of furtive footfall, strangled cries and the frenzied pandemonium of police whistles.
The Nemesis of Neglect
Punch Cartoon 1888
This is the original Aldgate East tour, the one that has often been copied but which has never been equaled.
The walk that is World-famous for being continuously led by expert guides, each one of whom is a renowned authority on the case and who have, between them, written ten acclaimed books on the mystery.
The walk that begins alongside the site of the first Whitechapel Murder and which, thereafter, follows a chronological route that helps build the tension as every step you take leads you deeper into labyrinth of streets and alleyways that provided the sinister backcloth against which the infamous crimes were played out and where things are still much as they were when the ripper prowled their shadows.
Indeed, in the company of guides who really know how to tell a story - and who are able to imbue their narratives with dramatic flourishes that help build genuine suspense and atmosphere - you will get the distinct impression that you have been transported back to the 1880's and that Jack himself might well be hiding in the darker recesses, or even lurking just a few doors along.
And, since at every stop you will get to peruse original Victorian photographs, that will show the locations you will be standing at as they were in 1888, you really will get the true feel of that long ago era of gas lit terror.
Leaving the bustling Whitechapel High Street behind, the tour slips beneath an ancient archway and, suddenly, you find yourself walking on original Victorian cobbles as you follow in the footsteps of Martha Tabram, whose murder on 8th August 1888 may well have been the first of the ripper's gruesome atrocities.
Where our tour begins
Here, in what is very much a shadowy world of twilit menace, your guide will begin a story that has captivated and terrified people in equal measure for over 125 years.
You will hear of Martha's final moments as you pause at the site where the realisation of the true intent of the stranger, whom she had led to this very spot, came too late for her to be able to save herself.
Whether that stranger was the killer who later became known as Jack the Ripper has been the subject of intense debate ever since and your tour guide will bring you the case both for and against.
What is certain though is that, here in this time slip back water of London's East End, you will begin to get an inkling of the horror that the Whitechapel Murders began to generate as the residents faced the alarming realisation that someone, or something, thoroughly wicked and evil had arrived in their midst.
Can there be a better location from which to set out on a journey through the atmospheric streets and thoroughfares that formed the backcloth against which the events of one of history's greatest mysteries were played out?
With the East End night closing in, you will venture further into the Victorian abyss as you pass the very spot where, in the early hours of April 3rd 1888, Emma Elizabeth Smith was attacked by a local gang, sustaining injuries that proved so severe that she later died from them.
The Punch Cartoon
Blind Man's Bluff
Emma's is the first name on the generic Whitechapel Murders file and so the account of her demise will introduce you to the names of some of the detectives who, by the end of that year, would be traipsing these streets, day and night, desperately seeking the break that would enable them to bring Jack the Ripper to justice.
And so we join the Victorian Police as they hunt their elusive quarry in the sequence of streets through which we now walk.
What methods of crime scene investigation did they employ?
What clues did they find, or even miss?
What difficulties did the complex layout of the streets and alleyways throw up to confound their investigation.
We will carefully consider these questions as we reconstruct their investigation and scrutinise the meager scraps of evidence their enquiries were able to uncover.
Of course, as they searched for a solution, the killer was out there too.
Perhaps he was watching their endeavours, inwardly gloating over their inability to catch him whilst, at the same time, basking in the notoriety that his crimes were affording him?
Or, perhaps, he was keeping a close eye on the local prostitutes, just waiting for one of them to let down her guard and provide him with the opportunity to pounce and claim his next victim.
The Old Frying Pan Pub Sign
Thus our Jack the Ripper tour arrives at Thrawl Street where we pause by the former pub inside which, in the early hours of 31st August 1888, local street walker Mary Nichols drank away the pennies that were to pay for her bed that night.
Drunk and broke, she left the pub intending to resort to prostitution in order to raise the few measly pence that would enable her to find a modicum of sanctuary for the night.
Somewhere, in the warren of surrounding streets, she encountered a stranger whom she led to a dark gateway in nearby Buck's Row where she knew that there was little danger of them being interrupted.
By so doing she presented her killer with the perfect location at which to murder her, after which he was able to simply fade away into the Whitechapel night, leaving her horribly mutilated body slumped in that dark gateway where it was discovered by two labourers as they made their way to work at 3.40 in the morning.
We're hot on the ripper's trail then, as the tour enters the "wicked" or the "evil" quarter mile - a tiny knot of truly atmospheric streets that are still lined with the old, 18th century houses that, in 1888, had become the slum dwellings and Common Lodging Houses that provided the backcloth against which the Jack the Ripper saga was played out.
The Capture Leather Apron Poster
It was also in these streets that the victims thus far had lived, and so these tiny backstreets suddenly became the focus of the police investigation, as detectives began arriving in the area and started interviewing the local prostitutes.
Soon the street walkers had given them a seemingly promising lead when they started talking about a sinister character, whom they'd nicknamed "Leather Apron"; a man who, they said, was trying to extort money from them.
Suddenly, the local populace got wind of this suspect with almost tragic consequences, so much so that the police learned an important lesson that led them to suppress certain information which, in turn, saw them accused of a cover up - a charge that has been persistent ever since!
As you walk through this film set corner of the East End, where many of the buildings have survived from 1888, your guide will take you through the full story of the "Leather Apron" scare and will outline the police investigation as it began to unfold and, in several respects, unravel.
Having picked our way through some of the most amazingly maze-like and atmospheric streets imaginable, the Jack the Ripper Tour arrives at Hanbury Street where, on the 8th September 1888, the killer struck again and slew Annie Chapman in the backyard of number 29.
A Punch Cartoon
Posters of Murders
You'll see where the house itself stood as your guide passes around a sequence of contemporary photographs that will show the murder site and its surroundings as they were at the time.
It was in the wake of the Annie Chapman killing that, what had to that point been a fairly lackluster police investigation turned into a massive manhunt that saw dozens of police officers and detectives flood into the neighbourhood in a determined effort to flush the killer out.
Your guides commentary will capture the intensity of that hunt and will highlight how many of the common perceptions we have about the case today - including the fact that Jack wore a top hat - came about in the wake of the Annie Chapman homicide as the police stepped up their game plan to bring the killer to justice.
And, as they did so, the press made a discovery that would impact hugely on the police investigation.
These murders could sell newspapers.
Thus the police had to contend with the added pressure of journalistic sensationalism as more and more lurid descriptions of the crimes began appearing in the daily papers and all manner of wild speculation and ill-informed theorizing was devoured by a public eager not to miss one salacious morsel of information about the Whitechapel Murders.
The walk then heads out on to the busy Commercial Street where we will pause across from the Ten Bells, the pub where several of his victims drank and where there is every possibility that Jack himself sat, eyeing his prey, or listening with concealed pride as the salacious details of his outrages were discussed in quavering voices by the terrified locals as they tried to blot out the nightmare with the area's universal panacea, alcohol.
One such local was 25 year old Mary Kelly, who may well have caught his eye as she sat drinking here on the evening of 8th November 1888.
Much the worse for drink, she would have staggered out onto Commercial Street and may well have looked up at the spire of the Church opposite, just as you will tonight as you cower beneath it and the events of that long ago night begin to unfold.
The towering edifice of this church dominates its surroundings today, just as it did in 1888.
The stop here really does make for a truly poignant moment, and few who stare up at the soaring white spire fail to be moved by the realisation that they are gazing at a direct link between our age and that of Jack the Ripper and his victims.
Your guide will take through the last hours of Mary Kelly's short life, telling you about the witnesses who may have seen her in the company of the ripper, and leading you to the non descript service road that now stands on the site of her squalid little room at 13 Miller's Court to which she led her killer in the early hours of the 9th November 1888.
Here the known facts about her murder will be laid before you and photographs of the crime scene itself, showing it as it was at the time, will be passed around the group.
Mary Kelly's Room
Huddled together with your fellow ripper hunters, you will listen intently as a story that, despite the passage of more than 125 years, still has the ability to elicit feelings of fear and fascination.
Of Mary's voice drifting across the night as she sang a mournful ballad.
Of the man who kept a furtive watch on her room, oblivious to the bloody carnage that was being carried out within.
Of a lone cry of "Oh murder" sounding out in the early hours of that fateful morning.
And of the discovery of her butchered remains - a sight so hideous that one horrified witness was moved to observe that "it looked more like the work of a devil than the work of a man."
You'll be able to judge for yourself as you see the photographs of that sight, the only one of Jack the Ripper's victims to be photographed at the scene of the crime.
From here the tour makes its way through the streets of Spitalfields, making our way to Goulston Street where, in the early hours of 30th September 1888, a sinister piece of chalked graffito was discovered above a piece of blood stained apron that the killer had torn from the body of one of his victims. Your guide will discuss the importance of this clue and will reveal why Sir Charles Warren, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, was so alarmed by the implied meaning of graffito that he ordered its erasure before any photograph of it could be taken.
Desperate for that elusive breakthrough, the police made public a letter that had been received by the Central News Agency in the City of London, and which purported to come from the killer.
Addressed to "The Boss" and boasting of his escapades thus far, whilst also taunting the police that "they won't fix me just yet", the missive bore the chilling signature "Jack the Ripper."
The Jack the Ripper Signature
As your guide will tell you on the tour, it was the publication of this letter that turned the murders into an international phenomenon and which, in turn, elevated the unknown miscreant responsible for the outrages into the realm of legend. From that point on Jack the Ripper became, and still remains, history's most famous serial killer.
Your guide will pass around facsimiles of this letter that you will be able to hold, inspect, peruse and discuss with your fellow tour members.
Imagine, studying a copy of the letter that, effectively, gave birth to the legend of Jack the Ripper.
So, having taken you step by step through the main events of the autumn of 1888; having shown you the murder sites; outlined the story; sifted the evidence; and having taken an in depth look at the police investigation into the crimes, the tour arrives in Mitre Square where, on 30th September 1888, the body of Catherine Eddowes was discovered in one of its darkest corners.
You will stand on the spot where her body was discovered and will again be able to hold and peruse contemporary photographs of the crime scene as it was at the time of the killing.
Here, with the low murmur of the traffic on the nearby Aldgate High Street as a reminder that we are safely separated from those long ago horrors by the passage of more than 125 years, you guide will sum up the case and will reveal the names of several of the major suspects.
A member of the Royal family? A deranged doctor? A suicidal barrister? A nobody who lived in the heart of the area you will have explored?
What is certain though, is that, when you leave this spot, you will have gained an in depth understanding of the events, happenings and protagonists that were, in one way or another, involved in the World's most infamous murder spree when a lone figure stalking the dark recesses of the streets through which you will have walked really did send a wave of terrorised panic surging into the very heart of the Victorian establishment.
As the Jack the Ripper tour concludes, it's just a two minute walk to Aldgate Underground Station, so you won't be abandoned and told to find your own way out of the abyss!!
However, you are more than welcome to hang back and discuss the mystery with your guide if you wish to do so. Indeed, you will find your guide is more than happy to chat and exchange information.
But, don't linger too long - for you never know who might be watching from the dark shadows of Jack the Ripper's London!
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