Oh hello there!
Welcome to my latest look at the life of King Edward VII on behalf of that most warming and sustaining of liqueurs, The King’s Ginger. Now is an especially good time to year to talk about its gingery delights, mainly because it’s winter and, after my last post about how winter hasn’t been so cold this year, it’s started to cool down. Right on cue! We’re not at risk of snow yet, so it’s nothing compared to many, but it’s still a little chillier out.
This time, it’s a more dark tale that I have for you. I’m going to talk a little about… dun dun duuuuuuuh! Jack the Ripper. *dramatic scream*
Cue the gothic opening theme music!
Now, there can’t be many people who don’t know the story of Jack the Ripper. My aim here isn’t to relay it in all its literal gory detail, but I will cover it in brief. I also tried to do a mini tour of the east London sites of each atrocity, but most of them no longer exist or have been changed into modern atrocities that don’t photograph well. Here goes anyway! Those of a nervous disposition, navigate away now!
The first murder attributed to the shadowy Jack took place on 31st August 1888. PC John Neil discovered the body of prostitute Mary Ann Nichols at 3.40am that day, lying in Buck’s Row, Whitechapel (now called Durwent Street). Polly, as she was known, left a pub on Brick Lane (now an Indian Restaurant) at around 11pm the previous evening, got turned away from her lodgings as she had apparently drunk away her boarding fee, and went off again into the night claiming she’d make all her doss money back, exclaiming, ‘see what a jolly bonnet I have!’ She was found to have been disembowelled and had had her throat cut so deeply her head was nearly severed.
The second murder was eight days later, on the 8th September 1888. Annie Chapman was found in the garden of 29 Hanbury Street, E1, another building that is no longer there, but at least the street is!
Annie was only a casual prostitute, she also made crocheted antimacassars (which is a word and indeed a thing that I love!) and sold flowers. She too had had her throat cut and had disembowelled, something that was now becoming the killer’s signature. This time it was even more horrific… her intestines drawn out and arranged over her and organs missing.
Tensions in the East End rose sharply after the second death. A nearby discarded leather apron which turned out to belong to a Jewish tradesman neighbour stirred up no small amount of anti-semitism, too.
(The building where Annie was found is now a big space containing things such as vintage markets! Appropriate!)
Only three weeks later, on September 30th, 1888, Elizabeth Stride was found in Dutfield Yard Berners Street (neither exist any more). Long Liz, as she was known, was not a prostitute, but a seamstress and cleaner. She was well-dressed and pretty respectable, seen with a couple of differently described men on the night before her murder. When found at 1am the following morning, she had a cut to the throat, still bleeding, with no more injuries, leading police to suspect the killer had been disturbed and fled the scene…
The result of this third murder was that police gave the East End’s prostitutes immunity from arrest if the confined their soliciting to the island around St Botolphs, a local church. Soon to be known, of course, as Prostitute’s Island!
The fact that the killer was disturbed and perhaps felt unsatisfied with his macabre work, led to another body being discovered the very same night – September 30th 1888 at 1.45am. Catherine Eddowes had been arrested earlier the same night for drunk and disorderly behaviour, and released at around 1am, bidding the Bishopsgate police officer, ‘Goodnight, old cock!’. She didn’t make it far.
All the killer’s signatures were present this time, with additional cuts to the face and nose. I’ll spare you further details in this instance! A blood-stained apron was found a few streets away, which the police suspected had been used by the killer to clean his murder weapon. This contemporary map shows the murder and the apron location (A), which actually fell into a different police jurisdiction (the City of London police on the left and the Metropolitan Police on the right).
Lastly, Mary Kelly fell victim to the killer on the 9th November 1888.
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck. Yours truly
Jack the Ripper
Dont mind me giving the trade name
PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now. ha ha
By most reports, Eddy was a “slow” child and grew up to be a rather dull adult.”Even his nearest and dearest, who were naturally bent on making the best of poor Prince Eddy, could not bring themselves to use more positive terms. Prince Eddy was certainly dear and good, kind and considerate. He was also backward and utterly listless. He was self-indulgent and not punctual. He had been given no proper education, and as a result he was interested in nothing. He was as heedless and as aimless as a gleaming gold-fish in a crystal bowl.” (James Pope-Hennessy, Queen Mary. Quoted in Rumbelow, p. 194.)