Hidden History

History is often all around us, hidden beneath our feet, if only we know where to look…

Walking around the beautifully kept memorial rose gardens in the City of London Cemetery, you may come across a small circular plaque set in concrete in the grass verge by an access road. Around the edge it reads ‘City of London Cemetery Heritage Trail’ and in the middle ‘Mary Ann Nichols, Died 31st August 1888’. A little further along on the opposite side of the road lies an almost identical plaque, this time bearing the name ‘Catherine Eddowes, Died  30th September 1888’


Catherine Eddowes


And if you were to wander around St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Leytonstone you may find a small and rather plain grave with an almost constant supply of flowers. The current headstone reads ‘In loving memory of Marie Jeanette Kelly – None but the lonely hearts can know my sadness, love lives forever.’

None of these grave markers are original, and after all these years the actual grave sites are approximate, but all three of these unlucky women were murdered in Whitechapel in London’s East End by Jack the Ripper – Polly Nichols at the end of August, Catherine Eddowes at the end of September, and Mary Jane Kelly on 9th November 1888.

Jack the Ripper’s two other known victims were Annie Chapman (buried in Manor Park Cemetery) who was killed on 8th September 1888, and Liz Stride (buried in East London Cemetery) who like Catherine Eddowes was murdered on 30th September.

With all the myths and legends and conspiracy theories surrounding the mysterious identity of Jack the Ripper (who was never caught), it is all too easy to forget that the basic story is factually true. Almost 130 years ago in the space of a few short weeks five real living-and-breathing women were brutally murdered, and it is important that they are remembered with respect as more than just incidental bit-part-player prostitutes in some misogynist madman’s murder-fest…

Daily Prompt: History


5 thoughts on “Hidden History

  1. TanGental July 27, 2017 / 3:45 pm

    I didn’t know they’d laid these plaques. Fascinating as well as a reminder of the tragedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ruth July 27, 2017 / 4:45 pm

      Apparently the old plaques these replaced were square and said ‘murdered by Jack the Ripper’ or something, so these later additions are definitely a bit more subtle!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Alan H July 27, 2017 / 4:08 pm

    Your first sentence is so true and, once you know they’re there, it seems so obvious. Next time I’m in London I’ll definitely be having at go at this trail it sounds fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ruth July 27, 2017 / 4:48 pm

      You could always take in a group Ripper Walk around the sites of the murders to re-live the story, then explore the grave sites afterwards…


      • Alan H July 27, 2017 / 8:39 pm

        That sounds good. I’ve read a few books about the Ripper, one in particular, detailing the early days of forensic science was fascinating.

        Liked by 1 person

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