Cities are defined by the people – whether famous, infamous, or anything in between – who have lived in them. London, with its colourful cast of misfits, fit ins, outsiders, insiders, mavericks, visionaries, and average people, is no different.
At Ingla we want our students to have a variety of experiences in London, and to see that London is not just their neighbourhood or their school, but a wide universe of worlds inhabited by every type of person under the sun spanning centuries upon centuries.
Our excellent tour started in the shadow of the Tower of London, another infamous global icon from our city, which was home to many of its own bloody scenes. The Wonders of London tour guide, a talented actor with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Jack the Ripper case, led us through the winding narrow streets relating every last gory detail and scrap of information about this still unsolved string of murders.
So, who is the real Jack the Ripper? Is he a butcher, a royal Masonic doctor, a woman, or, even, Prince Albert himself? The truth is that nobody knows, Inglans included, but the search for Jack the Ripper is his true appeal, and our search for the real London is Ingla’s greatest feature.
Some, of course, stand out and become global icons. For London Jack the Ripper is one such person who, for very unsavoury reasons, has become famous around the globe and tightly linked in the public imagination with London. So much so that on any day of the week you can take any number of different tours around Whitechapel and the East End to see where Jack stalked and murdered his many victims.
We recently took our students on the Wonders of London Jack the Ripper Free Walking Tour so they could get a taste of the seedier side of 19th century London whilst walking in the footsteps of one of history’s best known serial killers.
And while he showed us many of the crime scenes and the notorious “From Hell” letter, he also focused on the women, the victims so often overlooked by crime historians, to give us a vivid glimpse into their impoverished lives and sympathy for their suffering. We also received a vividly narrated ID parade of several key suspects in the case.