Here I am going to start documenting many of the unusual and strange things that have happened to me over the years during Jack the Ripper walks and believe you me there have been some oddities!
A Ghostly Affair
Some years ago in Mitre Sq I had a patch of strange happenings over a two year period when people on the walk at a certain point seem to feel faint or actually faint. The first being a young man, a teenager who fell down as though felled like a tree. Fortunately he did not hurt himself and was rather embarrassed when helped to his feet. Next, I had a lady who felt faint and another gentleman also feeling ill, then another lady who had to sit down. I noticed that all these events happened when I stopped in the alley by the small window of Sir John Coates school and vowed I would find out why. The next person to be taken ill there, really made up my mind, a gentleman who felt so bad I had to call a cab to take him to hospital! I also heard another guide had had a similar experience all be it down the bottom of the square near Mitre St
A short while later I had two ladies come on the walk who told me they were psychics so I though I would put their talents to use. Without telling them what had happened I told them I would let them know when we got to an alley that I found a bit strange and could they please tell me what they thought had happened there.
When we got there I continued speaking to the group and the two ladies were at the back whispering to each other quietly. When I had finished the tour on the way back to Aldgate I asked them the result. They told me that before the school was there, a club stood on the corner of the alley and one night a couple of grave-robbers unable to find a fresh grave in the nearby churchyards passed through the alley and found a man drunk in the doorway of the club. They suffocated him and took his body and sold it to a doctor at a nearby hospital claiming it was one they had dug up from a fresh grave. The man’s ghost indignant at this vile treatment and the way his body was disposed of had haunted the alley eversince. Deciding that this spirit should roam no longer I took Holy Water and sprinkled it and said prayers. Since that night there has been peace in the alley! Believe it or believe it not that is what happened!
‘Let me give you an injection’!
Another strange occurrence that happened many year ago also in Mitre Sq. I was with a small group of clients standing by the spot where Catherine Eddowes body was found and at that time there was two bench’s on the sides of a flower bed, the nearest bench was only three feet away but the farthest one the other side of the flower bed with it’s back to me about 10 feet away. As I had approached from St James’s Passage I had noticed a shabbily dressed man sitting on this bench with his back to the spot where I was standing. I was in full flow telling the story of Catherine’s murder to the group when I heard rustling and could see this man poking around in one of the carrier bags he had with him. I took no notice and continued.
Suddenly he got up and started to come towards us tottering rather unsteadily on his feet (obviously inebriated), he was holding something in his hand. At that moment I thought he was going to ask us for money so stayed calm, however by now the group were somewhat agitated and started to edge away. As he got nearer he suddenly said ” I am going to give you an injection” I saw a silver object in his hand which could have been a syringe. I quickly decided I did not want whatever he had in his hand and panic ensued, in me and the group! Before I could blink they were gone racing to St James’s Passage and I gathering my wits about me had run diagonally across to the side passage where I knew there was a security camera and a guard in the building watching it ( I had greeted him, many times when he did his rounds previously) I waved frantically at the camera my whole being praying that he was watching! Thanks goodness he was watching that night and hurried down to me. When we both turned to go back to the corner where the man had been he had disappeared. To this day I cannot be sure if he would have done me any harm but a scary moment sure enough!
Well I am now going to share a recent event! Last week I had two private walks on Thursday and after 5 hours in that terrible heat I was exhausted and only wanted to get home to cool off in a tepid shower. I got on the Tube at Aldgate so had to change at Liverpool St on to the Central Line, which as usual was packed. I found the last seat in the middle of a row and quite pleased with myself as someone else had tried to get it I sat down, bear in mind I was still in Victorian costume. A small man with a peaked hat came from by the doors and approached me. ” Do you mind if I take your photograph” he asked, well you can imagine hot, sticky and feeling dirty after my two tours I was in no mood to be compliant. “Yes” I replied rather tersely. “Does that mean you don’t mind or yes you do” he queried. By now I was getting a bit fed up just wanting to be left alone. “Yes I DO MIND.” I said, a girl sitting opposite caught my eye and laughed. he returned to his original position rather like a disobedient dog who has been told off. Deciding that I wanted no further attention I thought it would be wise to remove my hat, a straw hat garlanded with silk flowers. I took it off and as I placed it upside down on my lap I saw the brightest green grasshopper in the crown. It gave me such a shock to think it had been roaming my hair, that I flicked the hat away from me and the grasshopper landed on the leg of a man opposite, it started to climb his leg and only when it reached his hand resting on his knee did he react, as he was listening to something on his phone with earphones.
By now the girl next to me and the girl opposite were convulsed with laughter. As it climbed his hand he felt it and just as I had done he flicked it and now it landed on the handle of my case. “Ugh” I shouted and tried to flick it off but it determinedly clung on to the handle, by now the whole carriage was convulsed with laughter. I tried again to move it without success but now my knight in shining armour had risen from his seat some way down to my left, he picked up the grasshopper ran and ejected it out of the window. As truth be known later on I felt I should have caught it and released it once out of the Tube, but the shock it gave me and the fact I had my hat and a case of photo’s to drag along made that impossible. I just hope it managed to board another train or cling on to the outside of this one and make it’s way out somewhere near a park.
Jack the Ripper’s Descendent
Many years ago I when I first started taking tours I was taking a small group through Artillery Passage from Middlesex St on route to Dorset St where the last victim Mary Kelly was brutally murdered on 9th Nov 1888. Approaching us from Artillery Lane was a shambling figure who towered over me (6ft)? can of Special Brew in his hand, dressed in rags, he shambled past and thinking he was out of earshot and too far gone to notice I said quietly as a joke to the group “Must be Jack the Ripper’s descendant!” thinking there would be no-way he could hear.
Well he must have ears like a dog, the figure stopped in his tracks, turned with a roar and came towards us, the group hurridley stumble back up the passage and left me with this hulk ( If he was green he would have been identical). Hands outstretched he stumbled toward me, thinking on my feet now “Come on I said, what do you want? My hands up in fists now. He paused for a moment and then muttered under his breath and turned back the way he was going and went on his way. The group cowering at the end of the passage, soon recovered from the fright and I went on with the walk. Afterwards one of them said to me “How could you do that, he could have knocked you to the ground.” “No,” I replied with a smile I know that one well, his bark is definitely worse that his bite, besides if you show fear with people like that they will certainly react in a violent way if they think they can scare you. ” Over the years I have had a few such encounters and it has always worked out that way.
A Man With A Bike!
What is it about Jack the Ripper walks, they always seem to attract rather scruffy mentally unstable, deranged individuals to follow the walk. Last weekend I was leading a group when all of a sudden a man with a bike appeared at the back of the group looking rather menacing, unshaven and a bit the worse for wear. I let him stand there for a few minutes then said politely
“Can I help you sir?” to which he replied “I am just listening” Seeing that he might follow the group and as he was not a paying member of the walk I kindly explained that “This is a private walk, you have not paid to join and you can only join if you pay.” At this he got aggressive and started to shout ” You can’t stop me listening the street is for everyone.” I replied along the lines “Yes it is but this is a private tour and you have to pay to join” I then said to the group wishing to get away without further discussion” Let’s go” and moved twenty yards or so up the road.
Thinking we had got rid of him I stopped and started to speak again. A couple of seconds later he was back shouting, “Why did you have to embarrass me. You could have let me listen!” I tried to explain that I cannot just let anyone tag along with the group as I would have twenty paying customers and eventually up to 50 taggers who have not paid, making the walk less enjoyable for my paying customers, who deserve a great walk as they had paid. He shouted again and one of my group, a man said ” Go away!”
The man with the bike then shouted at me again threateningly ” You should be ashamed of yourself showing me up like that!” ( Incidentally the only person showing him up was himself for behaving like that). Seeing that he just wanted to pick a fight I said “Look you obviously want to pick a fight with someone, so go and pick on someone your own size” as I am 5ft 2ins and he was about 6ft this seemed to do the trick. I think it finally penetrated his rather thick skull, that he was making himself look bullying and stupid. Off on his bike he went and I am relieved to say did not come back again! This has happened numerous time over that past 24 years so many times, that it’s water off a duck’s back now, such is the life of a Jack the Ripper guide!