The Whitechapel murders began 3 April 1888 with the death of prostitute Emma Smith which marked the beginning of Jack the Ripper. He roamed the streets of London’s Whitechapel district mutilating and murdering five prostitutes (possibly more) while residents lived in fear of this brutal serial killer. Known also as ‘The Whitechapel Murderer’ and ‘Leather Apron’, the murders were never solved, and the legend lives on.
Whether you’re a tourist or actually live in London (I’ve been both), doing the Jack the Ripper Tour is a must. Jack the Ripper has become a dark and haunting London tale as mysterious intrigue into the unsolved murders lives on. Tours lead you through the dark alleyways retracing the Ripper’s steps, visiting the scenes of the murders, and looking at the evidence. Finally at the end, they reveal all of the suspects that were involved in the biggest man hunt in British history, and will give your their opinion as they unmask Jack the Ripper.
There are a multitude of Jack the Ripper Tours available to take you on guided walks around the Whitechapel area. But, there are 3 things you need for a good tour:
1) A fantastic guide: As the legends surrounding Jack the Ripper have became historical research and folklore, the term ‘ripperology’ is used to describe the study and analysis of the Jack the Ripper murders. With now over 100 theories about Jack the Ripper’s identity, you need a Riperologist like the former Beefeater I had who knows his stuff and will give you a true account of the murders. Another option is to choose an actor who will not only give you the facts, but will give them to you in all of their gorey details…but in the most entertaining, creepy way.
2) Pick a tour that offers small groups as you don’t want to be crowding around with 100 other people fighting to get close to the guide to hear the tales.
3) The best way to do a Jack the Ripper Tour is when it’s dark, cold and miserable — just like back in 1888. As the tour starts around dusk and the streets become empty, you want to feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you walk through the cobbled alleyways of Whitechapel. I’ve done the tour in the summer and it just isn’t the same. Bundle up, bring a flask and bare the cold.