Jack the Ripper Museum in London: in the footsteps of the Whitechapel killer

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Emilie Filou
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When it opened in July 2015 in the Whitechapel district, the Jack the Ripper museum created controversy. The British criticized the museum for being dedicated to the serial killer and using violence against women to sell tickets.



Faced with these diatribes, the museum defended itself by saying that it was intended to pay tribute to the women of east London.

Should we visit this museum which has aroused so much controversy? Is it rich in information and does it allow visitors to better understand the profile of the murderer and his victims?


 

Who was Jack the Ripper?

Jack the Ripper or Jack the Ripper in English, is one of the most legendary serial killers who lived in London at the end of the 1888th century. Between the end of August and the beginning of November XNUMX, he murdered five women from the working class, mostly prostitutes, in Whitechapel, a notorious neighborhood in east London.

The murders of Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly form a group of five victims also known as "canonical victims". Victims killed on the same modus operandi characterized by deep wounds in the throat, mutilation of the abdomen and genitals, internal organ harvesting and facial mutilation.


Legend has it that the killer then wrote to police and newspapers to recount his crimes and signed "Jack The Ripper" himself.

Never identified or caught, Jack the Ripper made the headlines of the time. More than a century later, it still fuels the imagination of tourists.

 

The visit of the Jack the Ripper museum

The museum is housed in a narrow Victorian house in the Whitechapel neighborhood where Jack the Ripper executed five victims. Each floor (5 in total) presents a scene in order to better identify the profile of the murderer and his victims but also how the investigation was carried out.

 

1st floor - Miter Square, September 30, 1888


 

The visit begins on the first floor with a reconstruction of a crime scene where two wax statues are exhibited. The policeman Watkins who discovers in the small square of Miter Square the body of Catherine Eddowes, fourth victim of Jack the Ripper, murdered on September 30, 1888.

To get closer to reality, a cart is on display because it was used at the time to transport the bodies of the victims to the morgue. A replica of an original graffiti is also present on the wall.


 

2nd floor - Jack the Ripper living room


 

On the second floor, there is a living room decorated in the style of the time which suggests the conditions in which Jack the Ripper lived. Even today, we do not know his social origins or his profession.

On display are medical instruments, poison, drug vials and a skull, as well as medical books on surgery as well as a letter called "From Hell", which may have been written by Jack the Ripper.
Finally, near the desk is a medic bag containing knives similar to those used to kill and maim victims.

Who was the murderer? Was he a surgeon? butcher? aristocrat?

 

3rd floor - The police station

 


Here is the reconstruction of the Whitechapel police station where Inspector Frederick George Abberline, detective in charge of the case in 1888 is represented. In front of him, a plan of the neighborhood showing the scene of the murders and the evidence gathered by the police.

 

 

In this room is also presented one of the rare collections "Ripperologiste" (ripper means ripper in English), including the notebook, handcuffs, baton and whistle that belonged to the policeman Watkins during the discovery of Catherine's body. Eddowes.

 

4th floor - A victim's room

 

Jack the Ripper victims are said to have lived in rooms like this, located in Whitechapel, one of London's poorest areas.
To illustrate their living conditions, the museum reconstructs a bedroom of one of the victims. They are often alcoholics, which leads to the explosion of their and the loss and support of their family. They find themselves alone with a meager alimony paid by the husband who signs the beginning of poverty and occasional prostitution in order to pay the rent and night asylums.

Photos of the young women adorn the walls and posters tell of their dark journeys.

 

Basement - The cellar and the morgue

 

Last step of the museum visit, the reconstruction of a mortuary where a bloody examination table and the original autopsy photos of the 5 victims of the Ripper are exhibited. The visit is not recommended for people under 16.

Some of the murdered women did not have families. They were buried in mass graves for the poorest, their last resting place not having been found.

 

Jack the Ripper Museum: a visit to recommend?

Although the reconstructions are realistic, a visit to the museum is not essential, moreover I would say that it is more an “attraction” than a museum in the strict sense of the term. Indeed, with the exception of a few historical objects such as handcuffs or a baton, the place does not present a vast collection of objects of historical interest.

In addition, the information given is summary and in English, even if a leaflet in French which briefly presents each item can be obtained at the entrance.

If you are short on time and know little about the history of Jack the Ripper, this tour can be a good introduction to the subject. On the other hand, if you have more time and you already have some knowledge, a guided tour will be more informative.

 

Book your visit to the museum

You can consult the GetYourGuide website for more information and to book if you wish. The price for an adult is around 14 €

The visit to the museum is included with the tourist card Adventure Pass.

 

What are the hours of the Jack the Ripper museum?

Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 18:30 p.m. Last admission at 18:00 p.m.

The museum is closed on December 25.

 

Guided tour in French in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper

 

If you want to discover or expand your knowledge of the history of the serial murderer, I advise you to do a guided tour in French and more particularly that provided by Maxime. This young Frenchman, living in London since 2012, organizes small group tours every evening. During 2h30, you will follow in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper by visiting the districts of Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Brick Lane and by visiting certain crime scenes.
Maxime will give you many details on the atmosphere of these dismal neighborhoods where the victims lived, mostly single women giving themselves to prostitution to survive.

Personally, I learned even more things by participating in this tour.

 

You can book your guided tour and discover all the modalities on the Welink site. In addition, Maxime also provides other guided tours in French in London such as " Haunted London - Ghosts and Tales of Death "," City of London: tales and legends of the historic center"," Secrets of Westminster" page (in French).

 

  Book a Jack the Ripper tour

  

Where is the Jack the Ripper museum located?

Address : 12 Cable Street, Tower Hill, Whitechapel, London E1 8JG

Metro National rail bus Tower HillShadwell, London Fenchurch Street15, 42, 78, 100, N15, N551

 

Conclusion

The visit of the museum which is done in 1 hour maximum briefly presents this morbid affair. Although the reconstructions of certain scenes of crime or life immerse us in the atmosphere of the dismal district of Whitechapel; they don't really explain who Jack the Ripper was and why the police were never able to stop him.

A guided tour in French provided by Maxime will be more interesting and informative on the subject and will give you answers to certain questions.


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