Ask most people to name a famous Victorian and you'll probably get one or all of three answers. Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens or Jack the Ripper.
The Jack the Ripper murders took place in 1888, eighteen years after Dickens death in 1870, and the area where the ripper's infamous crimes occurred was a district of London that Dickens had known well and about which he had written on many occasions.
Indeed, numerous of the social evils that the Whitechapel Murders exposed were problems that Dickens had constantly warned against throughout his career as a writer, and many Londoners came to see the crimes as an inevitable consequence of the squalor, vice and villainy that the authorities had allowed to develop, unchecked, on the very doorstep, so to speak, of the City of London.
Our Jack the Ripper Tour explores the streets of the East End of London where the murders occurred and enables you to delve in to the alleyways, courts and streets that formed the backdrop against which the dreadful saga of the crimes unfolded.
It offers you an intelligent and thought provoking investigation that deals with the facts, all the facts and nothing but the facts as it twists its way through the streets of the East End.
Here, in the latter years of the 19th century, a whole stratum of Victorian society attempted to eek out whatever existences they could, and tried to survive using any means that were at their disposal - be it through honest toil, nefarious activities, such as theft and prostitution, or by simply giving up and throwing themselves on the mercy of an uncaring and brutal society that, in return for a few pennies worth of charity, would judge them harshly and treat them with disdain.
Until, that is, an unknown miscreant, entered this dreadful abyss and began a murderous reign of terror that made society as a whole sit up and take notice of London's East End, and left those who had never even ventured into the area, and who had no intention of ever venturing into the area, quaking in fear as he carried out crime after crime with an apparent impunity that left the forces of law and order baffled, bickering and utterly humiliated.
This is the reality of the so-called autumn of terror, and this tour, which is led by the World's most respected authorities on the case - authors such as John Bennett, Philip Hutchinson, Lindsay Siviter and Richard Jones - is a truly dramatic reconstruction that weaves gripping social history together with a fascinating murder mystery to create an experience that is both chilling and fascinating and which will provide you with a first rate insight into the full story of the Jack the Ripper murders.
The tour follows a route that will enable you to begin at the beginning as you enter an atmospheric labyrinth of narrow and sinister alleyways that will lead you to the spot where Emma Elizabeth Smith, the first of the Whitechapel Murders victims, was attacked in the April of 1888.
She, almost certainly, was not a victim of the killer who became known as Jack the Ripper - your guide will tell you who was probably responsible for her murder - and she would, no doubt, have been long forgotten, had it not been for the start of a later murder spree, that began in the August of that year, when Martha Tabram was murdered in the cobbled little alleyway through which your guide will then lead you at the start of the tour.
There is considerable debate as to whether or not Martha was a ripper victim and you will hear the cases both for and against her inclusion amongst what are known as "the canonical five."
What is certain, however, is that her death started to attract attention to the fact that something was not quite right in the East End, and a general feeling of unease began rippling through the streets you will be exploring.
When, just a few weeks later, another murder took place, just a short distance from the site where Martha Tabram had met her grisly death, that feeling of unease gave way to outright panic and the Jack the Ripper scare was, well and truly, underway.
From this point on, you will be transported back to that long ago autumn to become an observer of the police investigation into the crimes that shook Victorian society to its very core and you will watch with intrigue and horror as the story unfolds before you.
To help you get an even better flavour of the area as it was then, your guide will also pass out genuine Victorian photographs of the very places at which you will be standing that will show them as they appeared at the time of the murders.
This way, you can, not only get to see the streets as they are today, but you can also look back at them as they were in 1888 and be able to see for yourself which landmarks or locations have survived the march of time and are still recognisable today. How's that for authenticity?
Step by step you will edge further into the heart of Jack the Ripper's killing ground to get a first hand glimpse of the problems that beset the long ago police officers as they fought a desperate battle to, not only halt the killer's murder spree but also to contain the panic that gathered momentum in the wake of each atrocity and to prevent it from erupting into full scale rioting.
As you will hear, as you snake your way through the streets of Spitalfields and Whitechapel, the area where the murders occurred was one of the 19th century's most densely populated and crime-ridden quarters; and the story of how it became like that, of how the women who were to become the victims of Jack the Ripper ended up there, and of how the murders focused attention on the social evils in a district that Dickens had warned about many years before, is as fascinating as it is chilling.
But, to get the full measure of the drama of the Jack the Ripper mystery, you need to be taken around by a guide who is a great storyteller and who possesses that rare ability to hold you spellbound with the drama of the tale. Get that part of the equation right and streets themselves, steeped as they are in history and imbued as they are with bags of atmosphere, will do the rest.
With John, Lindsay, Philip and Richard as your guides you'll be in the company of the best storytellers in the business.
Their skills as orators will, quite simply, spirit you back in time and will bring the whole story to vivid and terrifying life.
And, given the fact that these guides are all acknowledged experts on the mystery, you will be able to ask questions, discuss suspects, wonder aloud about his true identity and, in general, enjoy a much more rewarding experience, safe in the knowledge that you are in the company of a guide that is up to speed on all the latest information about this fascinating case.
In fact, all in all, you'll enjoy a thought provoking tour that is both intelligent and creepy and which, at the same time, steers clear of the gimmicks and sensationalism that have become the stock in trade of so many Jack the Ripper tours in recent years.
In short, if you are the sort of person who likes a good mystery, who enjoys history and who wants an accurate retelling of the full story of the World's most infamous, and best known, whodunit, then this is, most certainly, the tour for you.