JACK THE RIPPER TOUR - LONDON
ALONG WHITECHAPEL HIGH STREET.
Our online Jack the Ripper Tour of London begins on Whitechapel High Street, which today is a relatively nondescript East End thoroughfare that connects Aldgate High Street with Whitechapel Road.
The buildings that line it consist largely of modern offices with a smattering of pubs and fast food outlets.
It boasts a noteworthy institution in the form of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, which recently underwent a major renovation and expansion. It was built between 1897 and 1899 and was founded by Canon Samuel Barnet, the vicar of St Jude's Church on nearby Commercial Street and an ardent campaigner for reform in the districts of Spitalfields and Whitechapel.
Barnet wrote to the newspapers many times at the height of the Jack the Ripper scare to highlight the dreadful social conditions in the area.
One of his major complaints, which he made in a letter to The Times on 19th November 1888, was that the police presence in the area was insufficient to keep "decent order inside the criminal quarters" of the neighbourhood.
He also made the point the area was inadequately lit by night and observed that "dark passages lend themselves to evil deeds."
In 1888 the Eastern section of the High Street was overshadowed by the church of St Mary, which in the Middle Ages had been a lime-washed structure. Its resultant gleaming white exterior led to its being dubbed the "White Chapel" the name which was eventually passed on to the neighbourhood around it.
From at least the 18th century up until 1928 Whitechapel High Street was the scene of a very busy hay market. Farmers and hauliers arriving from the countryside to service the market were also a steady clientele for the areas prostitutes.
By night Whitechapel High Street was a well lit lively quarter where people could enjoy the pubs, gin shops, coffee stalls, and sundry entertainments provided by street performers or penny show houses.
Today just one pub survives from then, the White Hart, which is situated at the junction of Gunthorpe Street and Whitechapel High Street.
However this, often crowded, little pub is a must for inclusion in a Jack the Ripper tour of London, because in 1890 a major suspect was associated with the White Hart.
His name was Severin Klosowski and in 1890 he worked as a barber in a shop in the basement of the pub.This Link will take you to our section on the White Hart Pub.