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Jack the Ripper walk (part ten)
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As you return to Whitechapel High Street the way you came, look out for the narrow road on the far side of the School, called Winthorpe Street. During the 17th century, this Street used to be called Ducking Pond Row. Here, wives who had scorned their husbands were taken to a pond at the end of the Street and tied to wooden chairs; the women would be ducked into the water as a punishment, and they sometimes drowned.

Return to Whitechapel High Street. Turn left. On the opposite side of the Street is the London Hospital 27.

London Hospital: Built and opened in 1757 and heavily bomb-damaged in the Blitz, this Hospital still serves the local area and its poor, as was its main aim when the Hospital was first established. It was in this Hospital that Joseph Merrick (who was known as “the Elephant Man” lived in safety, and where today his remains are still kept in the Hospital Museum (not open to the public).


Jack the Ripper walk (part ten)



Continue a little further on the left and stop outside no. 259 Whitechapel High Street 28, which is directly opposite the main entrance and steps of the London Hospital.

No. 259 Whitechapel High Street: Today, this building is a sari shop. However, during 1889, this building housed a gruesome waxworks at the front of the shop, containing (amongst other things) the waxwork models of the Ripper’s victim’s bodies. Also, at the back of the shop, behind the waxworks, was a freak show. The main attraction at this freak show, in a cage at the very back of the building, was Joseph Merrick, aged only 25 years and who was called the Elephant Man by the freak show owner, because of the appalling disfigurements to Merrick’s entire face and most of his body.

Merrick was kept in a dark cage and, whenever people paid to come into the show, he was ordered like a dog to stand and take off his hood and clothes, made to show his mutilated face and stand naked in front of the crowd. At certain times of the day, Merrick also stood in the window at front of the building, his face and body covered, so as to entice passing members of the public into the show. There was even a picture of Merrick hanging outside on the wall.

Luckily for Joseph Merrick, this freak show was directly opposite the main entrance of the London Hospital and one day Dr Treves, a famous pathologist, saw Merrick at this window. Dr Treves had an interest in skin disorders and went into the freak show. Eventually, he “bought” Merrick from the owner of the show and moved Merrick into the London Hospital. Treves believed and hoped that Merrick was an imbecile, because of the sad and lonely life he had lived. However, it soon became obvious that Merrick was highly intelligent and had taught himself to read using only the Bible. Merrick became famous in High Society London; even the then-current Princess of Wales visited Merrick in his private bedroom in the nurses’ quarters in the Hospital.

Merrick died in 1890, lying on his back in bed. Lying down in such a manner was something that he knew was dangerous and would probably kill him, due to the fact that his head was so enlarged and deformed. However, all his life Merrick had craved to be able to sleep “like other people”.

Continue further along Whitechapel High Street and you will come to the Whitechapel Underground Station on the left - 29.

The building to the right of the Underground Station entrance was a public house a hundred years ago. The pub was used as a resting place for the mutilated remains of Mary Ann Nichols’ body. Shortly after the body was found in Durward Street - 26, it was brought to the pub by horse and cart and kept here under a police guard.



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