Church protest vigil planned outside Cable Street’s Jack the Ripper museum tonight
PUBLISHED: 12:18 26 November 2015 | UPDATED: 00:23 27 November 2015
A memorial service is being held tonight by women campaigners and worshippers from three churches in London’s East End for the victims of Jack the Ripper—127 years after the Whitechapel Murders.
The service follows a protest vigil they are staging outside the controversial Jack the Ripper museum that opened in August in Cable Street, near Tower Hill.
Women’s groups joined by vicars are lighting candles in silent protest followed by speeches in contempt at “the tacky tourist attraction” which opened with a “misleading planning application”.
The vigil at 6pm leads onto a silent march to nearby St George’s-in-the-East church in The Highway for the 7pm commemoration to the five known victims of the 1888 murders.
It is supported by the Theology centre at St George’s and London Citizens’ Whitechapel HQ, with speakers including historian Sarah Jackson who is campaigning for “a real heritage centre”.
The service marks the anniversary earlier this month of the last-known Ripper victim, Mary Kelly, who’s badly-mutilated body was discovered in a ground-floor tenement at Dorset Street in Spitalfields on November 9, 1888.
The other known victims that year were Polly Nichols, in Bucks Row behind Whitechapel station on August 31, Annie Chapman in Hanbury Street in Spitalfields September 8, and Elizabeth Stride in Burners Street in Shadwell and Catharine Eddowes in Mitre Square in Aldgate, both September 30.
The victims could also include what may have been the Ripper’s first victim, Martha Tabram, at Whitechapel’s Gunthorpe Street Dwellings on August 7.
The “tacky” museum has come under fire from Bishop of Stepney Adrian Newman and Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs—who both joined a picket protest last month—because it had applied for a planning licence as “a centre celebrating the achievements of women in the East End”.
The application made no mention of Jack the Ripper—but that’s the tourist attraction that eventually opened after planning was granted, much to the fury of the community and the local authority.
Now the three churches, St George’s-in-the-East, St Paul’s in The Highway and St Mary’s in Cable Street, plan a roving heritage exhibition between them to honour women’s achievements down the centuries, such as the Suffragettes and the women workers at Bryant and May’s match factory in Bow who organised the first industrial strike that led to the East End’s strong trade union tradition.
Most protests against the museum have been peaceful. But it has been running the gauntlet of marches since August including two that turned violent, with paint daubing and windows smashed which overspilt onto Bethnal Green’s Cereal Killer café in Brick Lane, probably by over-zealous demonstrators misunderstanding the name.