JULY 2018

JULY 2018
One Hundred Years Later, Same Message. 1916 - 2017


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

BLOODY JACK Chapter Twelve

I am amazed the Italian Bishop Mellitus thought he could easily convert the Vikings of England to Christianity. The first step in his master plan, begun the year he arrived in London - 604 C.E. - was to remake a Roman era temple dedicated to the goddess Diana into a church honoring St. Paul. In response the pagans chased Mellitius right out of London. Then they burned down his church. Although they rejected the new religion, not burning down the Bishop himself might be described as Viking religious tolerance. In any case, it was not until 1087, when William the Conqueror's Catholic confessor, Bishop Maurice, built a fortress St. Paul's (above), which would stand for another 600 years - proof in stone that Christianity had conquered London. St. Paul's Cathedral adopted a policy of growth by meiosis – the mother church granting “easements” for the devout to take most communions in off shoot chapels close to their homes, a practice practiced until London was over flowing with chapels pressed right up against the city walls.
In 1250 just the second easement was granted for a chapel outside Aldegate (Old Gate),  in the parish of Stepney. When it is completed in 1286 this church was dedicated to Jesus' mother, Mary, and it was called St. Mary Matfel – being a term for a new mother. Because this small house of worship, and its larger 1329 replacement (above), had walls of common white Kent chalk rubble held together with white plaster, and was clearly visible from the Conqueror’s Tower of London and the city walls, it came to be called The White Chapel. And thus the parish earned its name.
With time William's house of Normandy was defeated by the Plantaganents, who were followed by the houses of Lancaster, York and the Tudors, under whom the Catholic St. Mary's was rededicated as an Anglican St. Mary's. In 1673 “Whitechapel by Aldgate”, was rebuilt with red brick in a neoclassical Roman style. And in June of 1649, in the graveyard of this “Whitechapel” (above), five months after he had chopped off the head of Charles Stuart, King of England and Scotland,  Richard Brandon, a “rag man on Rosemary Lane” and public hangman, was laid to rest.
The Stuarts were followed by the House of Orange and then the German House of Hanover - whose most illustrious Queen - until modern times -  was Victoria, the Empress of India. The white chapel, at the junction of Adler Street, White Church Lane, and Whitechapel High Street, was rebuilt again in 1877 as a Victorian Gothic church, again with red brick (above). 
But three years later, on the night of Thursday, 26 August, 1880 a fire gutted the sanctuary, sparing only the bell tower and the vestry.
The red brick white chapel reopened again in December of 1882, with pews for 1,600 worshipers and an external pulpit to sermonize to the tide of sinners breaking against its walls. It is interesting to note that despite the image of Victorian piety , an 1881 survey of churches showed that on any given Sunday only 1 in 3 residence of England were sitting in pews. 
It was just across the High Street from this church, on the corner of Whitechapel and Osborn (above),  that Emily Holland met the inebriated Polly Nichols early in morning of Friday 31 August 1888. And it was the bell in the 200 foot tower of this church which interrupted their conversation. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Polly Nichols, it tolls for thee.
The parish of Whitechapel in 1888 was bisected by two primary roads. However, this being London, both were drawn using a whimsical compass, and both were badly congested with traffic and horse manure. Whitechapel High Street ran roughly a mile from Aldegate east northeast past the white chapel and the London Hospital, where it was known as Whitechapel Road. Curving parallel north of the High Street, was Wentworth, which after crossing Brick Lane became Old Montague Street, at the eastern end of which was located the mortuary, just around the corner from the Whitechapel Workhouse.
The next primary (sort of) street north of Wentworth and Montague Street was the disjointed Hanbury Street (above), named after local brewer,  Sampson Hanbury.  The west end of the dis-articulatied Hanbury began at the wide thoughfare of Commercial Street, a block north of the Spitafield Markets - operating since the middle ages - and Christ's Church. After crossing Brick Lane, Hanbury jogged south at Spital Street, and after Greaterox Street it jogged south again, converging toward Old Montague Street, before terminating, at it's eastern end, just north of Buck's Row. A decade earlier, Hanbury had been four separate named streets, and they had not been straightened or widened, with the name change - merely another example of the geographic anarchy which results by haphazardly imposing order upon preexisting anarchy.
Sandwiched north of Whitechapel and between that and Hanbury was the infamous “Wicked Quarter Mile”, jammed with dark dangerous poverty plagued short side streets like Bushfield, Dorest, White, Princelet, Fournier, Henege, Chicksand  and Fashion Streets and Petticoat Lane,  all little more than a block long, all packed with human beings like so many sardines - such as Mrs. "Flower-on-the-Flock", who was infamous for her abilities with a knife.
Along most of its contorted length, Hanbury Street was crowded with cheaply built apartment houses, called 8 by 4's, which had replaced older grander slums. 
Their front doors opened on a hallway running the length of one side of the building. At the rear, a staircase provided access to the higher floors – 4 in all, ground and 1 through 3 - while a doorway (above, right), provided access to the rear yard and an outhouse and 1 or 2 sheds, Two doors along each hall provided access to the apartments, each a single room of 8 feet square.
Typical were the eight rooms at 29 Hanbury Street (above, center), one block east of Commercial Street, which were occupied by 17 people. Since the tenants worked at various hours of the day and night, the front doors of such buildings were never locked, providing open dark hallways, backyards and staircase landings – like the one at George Yard – for “immoral purposes”, aka side businesses.  All all of the poor but eager denizens of Whitechapel had side businesses. 
Many of the front ground floor apartments were rented to small shops, pubs, or even light industry. The ground floor front room of 29 Hanbury, in the first block north of the Commercial Street,   was a shop run by the well named Mrs. Hardiman, who sold cat meat pies. And I do not mean meat pies for cats. Mrs. Hardiman also slept in the same 8 by 8 foot room, with her 16 year old son. At night they also shared the room with their landlord, Amelia Richardson, and Thomas, her 14 year old mentally challenged grandson.
Above this, in the first floor back room was an old man named Windsor, who slept there with his 27 year old mentally challenged son. The first floor front apartment was vacant and locked. The front room on the second floor was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Thompson and their adopted daughter. The third floor rear room was used by Mrs. Sarah Cox.,   
On the front ground floor of number 17 Hanbury Street,on the north corner with John Street and in the same block, was the “Weaver's Arms” public house, popularly known as “Coonies”. The name on the liquor license was William Turner, but the owner of the building was John MaCarthy. And he was the  “Stage Door Johnny” to the “Queen the English Music Halls”, the lively, vulgar and hilarious 18 year old Marie Lloyd. 
Marie (above) had been preforming since she was 15, and her first hit song, “The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery”, displayed a genius at double entrendre two generations before Mae West - “They call him a cobbler, but he's not a cobbler, allow me to state. For Johnny is a tradesman and he works in the Boro'l, where they sole and heel them, while you wait.” The diminutive Marie, famous for her generosity and good heart, gave all four of John MaCarthy's daughters their start in show business.
There was another pub in the same block, at 23 Hanbury, “The Black Swan”, managed by Thomas David Roberts. In the back yard and basement behind, officially listed as 23a Hanbury Street, was where brothers Joseph and Thomas Bailey made packing cases. And one of their subcontractors was Mrs. Amelia Richardson, who operated her own shop in the basement and rear yard at 29 Hanbury Street.
Three floors above Mrs. Richardson's business, lived John Davis (above), with his wife and three sons, in their own 8 by 8 foot room. They had moved into the third floor front room two weeks earlier. Such a drifting existence was not unusual in Whitechapel. Of the 1.204 families tracked by the Mr; Booth's new Salvation Army during 1888,  44% changed their address that year. The nomadic Whitechapel existence produced constant worry and tension, and like the woman on Buck's row two weeks earlier, on the morning of Saturday, 8 September, 1888, John Davis lay awake in his bed between 3:00am and 5:00am, unable to get back to sleep.
Although he appeared to be “an old and somewhat feeble-looking man”, John Davis held a porter's job at the Leadenhall Market (above) in central London, “famous for its poultry, game, bacon, leather and hides”. And although shortly after 5 that morning he fell back asleep, he was re-awakened at 5:45 by the tolling of the Spitafield church clock.  John surrendered to the need to earn a salary and climbed out of bed. He quietly made himself a watery cup of tea, and dressed.  Just before 6:00 am he went downstairs, intending to use the latrine in the back yard.  Oddly, he found the back door was closed. But having opened that door, and before stepping across the sill and down the two steps, John Davis was brought to a halt.
Lying on her back, with her left side touching the fence shielding the yard from the neighbor's view, with her head at his feet, John Davis saw the body of a woman. John remembered,  ... her clothing up to her knees, and her face covered with blood. What was lying beside her I cannot describe - it was part of her body.” It was, in fact, her intestines, pulled out from her bowel, and draped or tossed over her right shoulder.
Horrified, and in shock, John stumbled back through the house and out onto the street. He wanted to alert the Whitechapel Police Station house on Commercial Street. But a few steps out the front door of 29 Hanbury, he ran into three men, two preparing to work for the Robert's brother's at 23a Hanbury – James Kent and James Green - as well as passerby Henry Holland. Davis shouted to them in a panic, ““Men, come here! Here’s a sight, a woman must have been murdered!”  The three men followed Mr. Davis through 29 Hanbury to the back door. James Kent was under the impression that the victim was  "struggling…[and] had fought for her throat."  But after a quick look at the mutilated corpse,  all three men began running. Holland headed for the Spitafield Market,, expecting to find a Constable there. Henry Holland headed for the Black Swan, determined to drown what he had seen in beer. Davis and Green headed for the Commercial Street Metropolitan Police station (above) two blocks away, where they demanded to see a senior officer because  “Another woman has been murdered!” 
But not just been murdered, this time. This woman had been murdered and then butchered. The killer was growing more comfortable with letting his horror out into the world. He was finding its release satisfying, fulfilling, comforting, even calming. And he was speeding up.

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