An intriguing point was raised on the Jack the Ripper Tour last night. One member of the group, who has done several London walks with us, asked how the rest of London would have viewed the East End of London in 1888?
The truth is that in 1888 this area consisted of some of London’s worst slums. One of the great things about joining our Jack the Ripper London walk is that we start the tour right in the heart of the district where the murders occurred and, as a consequence, participants get a genuine “feel” of the character of the area.
One of the tragedies about the victims of Jack the Ripper is that they all came from a class of women that, whereas certainly not middle class, were, what could be described as “respectable” working class. But they all shared a common trait that consisted of a downward, drink-fuelled spiral that had seen them separated from their families and living transient existences in the Common Lodging Houses that peppered the East End of London at the time.
Meanwhile the Middle class citizens in the west end of London had plenty to fear about the massive under class that dwelt to the East of the City of London. There was a general fear that a revolution was iminent and that, were it to come, it would come out of the East End of London. Jack the Ripper, although being a danger to a certain class of women, i.e prostitutes, in a very small part of the vast Victorian Metropolis, became in many ways a physical embodiment of the nebulous fears that the Middle classes had about the vast underclass in the East End of London.