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Tracing the path of the world's most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper, in London's East End.
Distance 2.7 miles (4.4km)
Minimum time 1hr 30min
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Paved streets
Landscape Plenty of narrow streets and some main roads
Suggested map AA Street by Street London
Start/finish Aldgate tube
Dog friendliness On lead
Public toilets None on routeWrite a review of this walk
© The Automobile Association 2008. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153
1 With Aldgate tube station behind you, walk towards St Botolph's Church on the right. Cross the road at the pedestrian lights and continue ahead, past the school on the corner. Turn right along Mitre Street. A few paces further is Mitre Square, where the fourth body, Catherine Eddowes, was discovered by the benches.
2 Continue ahead, turning right into Creechurch Lane and past some posts marking the boundaries of the City of London. Go across two main roads to reach Stoney Lane. Bear right into Gravel Lane and, at the end, past the parade of shops, turn left along Middlesex Street. Take the first right into Wentworth Street, more commonly called Petticoat Lane and host to the famous, thriving market.
3 Turn left into Bell Lane and right into Brune Street, where you'll see the remains of a Victorian soup kitchen. At the end turn left and left again into White's Row, where the fifth body, that of Mary Jane Kelly, was found (the site is now a car park). Cross Bell Lane and follow Artillery Lane as it narrows to form an alleyway.
4 Turn right into Sandy's Row, past a synagogue, then right and left to reach Brushfield Street. This passes Spitalfields Market and ends up at Hawksmoor's majestic Christ Church Spitalfields, the white building ahead. Cross Commercial Street at the pedestrian lights and turn left.
5 As the road bends turn right into Hanbury Street, where the Truman's Brewery denotes the murder scene of the second victim, Annie Chapman. Cross Brick Lane and continue along this road for another 500yds (457m), past the Brady Recreation Centre and along an alleyway.
6 Turn right into the main road and cross over at the pedestrian lights. On the left Durward Street leads to the site of the first murder, where Mary Ann Nichols' body was found, but little now remains of the original streets. Instead continue ahead and cross the busy stream of traffic on Whitechapel Road into New Road.
7 When you get to Fieldgate Street turn right towards the austere buildings of a former synagogue and then take the third left into Settles Street. When you reach the end bear right and cross over at the pedestrian lights, to turn left into Henriques Street. The school here stands on the site of the Ripper's third victim, Elizabeth Stride.
8 Continue ahead, following the road at it swings to the right. At the end, turn left and then immediately right into Hooper Street and right again into Leman Street. Cross the road into Alie Street. At the end bear right and then left along Little Somerset Street, which comes out opposite where you began the walk at Aldgate tube.
Although the thick 'pea souper' fogs no longer exist, the East End can still be pretty grim. However, just when you're adapting to the greyness, you'll notice another fascinating alley and building to explore. A few years after the Jack the Ripper murders some of the original street names were changed to avoid notoriety; other sites are now buried beneath new buildings, but this walk will take you very close to all five sites. But be quick - the developers are moving faster than you can say Jack the Ripper.
In the space of 10 weeks during the autumn of 1888 five women, all prostitutes, were brutally murdered. At the time, Whitechapel was home to the poor and destitute and pollution from sewers was commonplace. If you didn't die of hunger then you had a high chance of succumbing to disease. Infant mortality was soaring. Over 80 per cent of the population were considered criminals. Given these facts, prostitution may not have seemed such a bad option for many women. As illiteracy was high among the poor, no doubt news of the killings was spread by word of mouth, although in the literate world at the time, the murder of a prostitute would hardly have raised too many eyebrows. More than 100 years later the murderer's true identity remains a mystery. Jack the Ripper has become one of the most notorious serial killers of all time and the subject of many films and documentaries.
The first victim, 42-year-old Mary Ann Nichols, was found with her throat cut from left to right, suggesting that the killer was left-handed; her stomach had also been slashed several times. Annie Chapman, aged 47, was the second victim and, as well as having her throat cut, certain organs had been skilfully removed from her abdomen. The third victim, 45-year-old Elizabeth Stride, also had her throat cut, but apparently a passing pony and trap, driven by the man who discovered her corpse, interrupted the killer. Victim number four was Catherine Eddowes, aged 46, who was found less than an hour after Stride. Her uterus and left kidney had been removed - the kidney was later sent to the chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee in a package along with a note.
Crowds began to gather at the murder sites and vigilante groups became increasingly active, frustrated by the apparent failings of the police investigation. Records show that the Ripper was able to spend more time with his last victim, Mary Jane Kelly. She was the only one in her twenties, and was murdered at her home. However, she was so badly mutilated she could be identified only by her eyes and hair.
The markets here are the best in London. Petticoat Lane and its subsidiaries form a river of market stalls, especially on a Sunday morning, when you'll be able to pick a bargain or two. Spitalfields Market is under cover and tends to consist mainly of crafts and fashion stalls.
Between 1880 and 1914 Whitechapel became home to hundreds of eastern European, Jewish refugees. The soup kitchen in Brune Street is evidence of this. Here, the 'Jewish Poor' as they were called, came for some basic hot soup. Notice the Dickensian 'Way In' and 'Way Out' signs above the doors.
For Jack the Ripper memorabilia and a display of newspaper cuttings, head for the Ten Bells pub, near Christ Church in Commercial Road. This was apparently the local for many of his victims. It has Victorian tiled walls and candle-lit tables. The Brick Lane curry restaurants are cheap and numerous and are some of the most authentic in London.