The Whitechapel / Spittalfields area of East London has been actively settled since Roman times. Many of the historic buildings are built on the remains of old Roman settlements. Throughout the Dark and Middle Ages, the East End was a burgeoning commerce area, mostly inhabited by Anglos and Jewish moneylenders. In Elizabethan times the East End looked and smelled like something right out of one of Shakespeare’s history plays, and, in fact, the character of Falstaff (Henry V) is said to have been based on an innkeeper from the notorious East End. It was a place of soldiers and prostitutes, brawls and bawdy houses.
The coming of high Victorian morals did nothing to dull this seedy reputation and the Whitechapel / Spittalfields area, while known to humanitarians for its extreme poverty, was also known to all as the home of thieves, prostitutes, and the most derelict of English society.
In 1888 the Whitechapel area of London was the scene of some of the most brutal murders ever recorded: the famous Jack the Ripper crimes. Yet the murders – and the identity of Jack – remain unsolved, even today. Many assert that the killer was a doctor or was somehow connected to the medical profession; others believe the killer to have been Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, though nothing substantial has ever arisen to support the theory.
|A letter written by Jack the Ripper|
|Artist's rendition of Jack's ghost|
Jack the Ripper enjoyed a brief career as London’s most infamous serial murder and the fact that he was never caught still adds to the mystery surrounding him. Nevertheless, it is thought that his horrible mutilation of Mary Kelly was his last act of violence and there is no evidence that Jack, whoever he may have been, killed again after November 1888.
Today visitors to London’s East End can walk the streets that Jack prowled and visit pubs and other locations he may have haunted in life – and death. Walking tours of the area are very popular and although Jack’s legacy is certainly the most enduring, other ghosts that haunt the East End are those of Jack’s victims, in various stages of mutilation; a ghostly band of Roman soldiers; a murderous sea captain’s ghost that haunts a local pub; and a mysterious black carriage drawn by ghastly white horses that approaches without a sound and disappears right before your eyes. These and other haunts, combined with the long haunted history of the East End make it one of the must visit ghostly locations in the world.