Ripperologist JON REES tells us where the ghostly victims of Jack the Ripper can still be seen haunting the streets of Haunted Whitechapel, London
Mary Ann ‘Polly’ Nichols, Bucks Row (now Durward Street)
Most of the street (including the murder site) is inaccessible because of Cross Rail construction, but before the work began it has been said that on this and the surrounding streets people have heard ghostly noises of Jack killing Polly (a common theme for many of the murder sites).
The apparition of a body has been sighted in the gutter where Polly was found (some reports even say it glowed an ethereal grey or green), and these date back as early as 1895.
Horses and dogs were also said to shy away from this spot.
A well-regarded Ripperologist was once taking photographs of the street and overheard a man and a woman talking, but when he turned around there was no one there.
Annie Chapman, 29 Hanbury Street
The house was demolished in the 1970s and replaced with the Truman Brewery.
The murder site is a car park/Sunday market.
In the 1930s residents claimed to be able to hear Annie being murdered in the backyard of the house.
One Hanbury street resident even claimed to have been standing over the site of the murder, hearing an invisible woman gasping for breath, accompanied by heavy male breathing and the sound of a knife swishing through the air, a body being dragged and then silence.
A headless figure has been reportedly been seen sitting in the back yard and her phantom has been seen walking down Hanbury Street and stopping at number 29, accompanied by a shadowy man.
One man who lived opposite number 29 (when the original building was still present) claims to have seen a couple entering the house on several occasions over a number of years, but he would never actually see the door open or close to allow them entry.
When pointing out the mysterious couple to others who were with him, such as his wife or on one occasion his brother, apparently neither could see the couple who the man could plainly see in front of him.
When the building was later demolished and the brewery built, the location of the murder was a store room, and staff reported seeing a headless apparition on the spot.
Above was the breweries boardroom, and local tradition had that each year on the morning of September 8th the boardroom would always be unusually cold.
Elizabeth Stride, Dutfields Yard, Berner Street (now Henriques Street)
Now the gates of a school, the most inactive murder site in terms of hauntings but associated with the earliest ghost story.
In the months following the murder, people claimed to be able to hear the ghostly noises of a woman struggling and crying out.
No physical manifestations and no modern sightings have been reported.
However, in 1888 during the inquest into her death a woman named Mary Malcolm gave testimony that Stride was her sister Elizabeth Watts.
She claims that at 1.20am the morning Elizabeth Stride was killed (about half an hour after the murder) she was awoken by pressure on her breast and hearing the noise of three distinct kisses. The newspaper East London Advertiser theorised that the pressure would be consistent with the murderer steadying himself as he prepared to slit Stride’s throat, and that the kisses were consistent with it being “probable that the killer betrayed his victim Judas like with a kiss”.
The police and the coroner didn’t believe her story, and made it quite clear to her but she resolutely stuck with it until Elizabeth Watts (Mrs Malcolm’s very much alive sister) turned up at the inquest understandably annoyed at the unflattering light her sister had been painting her in.
Catherine Eddowes, Mitre Square
In late September, particularly the anniversary of her death, onlookers (even in recent years) have reported seeing Catherine’s mutilated body lying where she was killed.
A medical student who was passing through the square one evening reported seeing what he first thought was a bundle of clothes, but then on seeing a slight movement, approached thinking it was a person who had collapsed or been injured.
As he approached he realised it was a woman lying there, but as he got closer she suddenly vanished.
Another story concerns a young couple passing through the square one evening who saw a shadowy figure running away.
In the corner from where they saw him run from, they saw what they thought was a pile of rubbish.
As they approached they saw it was a body of a woman.
Moments later some youths entered the square and sat in the same corner laughing and drinking, with the body of the woman now gone!
There is also a tale that the cobbles in the square on the spot of the murder glow blood red on some nights.
Mary Kelly, 13 Millers Court, Dorset Street
Now a construction site following demolishment of White’s Row car park and Fruit and Wool Exchange buildings.
It is often stated that in the months following the murder, when the room was re-let the blood stains were still present on the walls.
A woman claimed in a television interview in 1959 that her mother moved into number 13 shortly after the murder, and that on the wall there remained a bloody handprint, that was cleaned off and painted over many times but would always reappear soon after.
During the months and years that followed some witnesses reported seeing the figure of Mary Kelly, clad in black.
She would enter her former home and gaze through the windows.
From some eyewitness testimonies it is possible to conclude that Mary’s haunting started the very same day as her murder, as she was sighted after her supposed death.
The information provided by Dr Bond in his autopsy and various eyewitness descriptions (including one woman hearing a cry of “Murder!” in the court) puts Kelly’s time of death during the early hours of the morning.
But a witness named Caroline Maxwell claims to have seen Mary at half past eight and had a conversation with her.
Her description matches Kelly and she says that she looked unwell (a fact confirmed by “Kelly” when she spoke to her).
So was Caroline Maxwell simply mistaken (about who she saw or the day), was the time of death drastically wrong and Kelly murdered long after, or was the woman Caroline Maxwell saw perhaps the spirit of Mary Kelly, waiting at the entrance to Millers Court for someone to discover her earthly remains.
Annie Chapman, Ten Bells, Commercial Street
In the 1970s (when it was known as the Jack the Ripper) a former landlady claimed that the ghost of Annie Chapman was haunting the pub, and strange winds and minor poltergeist behaviour were reported.
Why the landlady assumed the ghost was Annie is unsure.
You may also like to read:
- Mary Jane Kelly, Jack the Ripper’s Final Victim
- Who was Jack the Ripper?
- 13 things you didn’t know about Jack the Ripper
- Haunted London: Whitechapel E1
- Jack the Ripper Victims Graves: Their Final Resting Places
- Was Jack the Ripper a woman?
- Mary Pearcey, the Hampstead Murderess
- How the Jack the Ripper Murders began
- Jill the Ripper? 5 women accused of being Jack
- Murder by Decree (1979) REVIEW