Over the centuries
the people of London
fire, war and disaster.
And, on a smaller
they have also lived
was an everyday fact of life.
In Southwark, one of the very
oldest parts of London, an unusual museum reminds Londoners of these much
harder times. The LONDON DUNGEON
has exhibits which look at the way in which people were
tortured and executed as a matter of course in the past. But, the most
exhibit of all relates to Jack the Ripper,
the name given to the man who committed some of the most
murders London has ever known. These took place between August 30th and
November 9th in 1888. The murderer seemed to appear out of the thick fogs
the city at this time and then disappear without a trace.
The first known victim of Jack the Ripper was Mary 'Polly' Nicholls.
Police Constable John Neil found her body in the streets in the early
hours of the morning on Thursday 30th August. He was shocked to find her
throat cut and her body
hacked by a knife. It
looked like the work of a surgeon gone mad. But Mary Nicholls was lucky
compared to the Ripper's other victims.
The Ripper had cut
their throats and opened their bodies to take out many internal organs.
The Ripper mutilated his last victim so badly it was almost impossible
to recognize her.
London went mad with fear and
To what purpose could the murderer possibly put the body parts he had
taken from his victims?
The police came under
enormous pressure to solve the crimes. But no-one was ever brought to
Many people still speculate to this day about the Ripper's real identity.
Among the suspects are: George Chapman, a
who was hanged in 1903; John Pizer, a shoemaker; Aaron Kosminski, a madman
who hated women; the Queen's doctor, Sir William Gull; and, even, such
members of the royal family as Prince Albert or the Duke of Clarence.
Whatever the truth
about the identity of Jack the Ripper, staff at the London Dungeon can
tell you that his evil influence
to this day.
SEPTEMBER 30 AT THE DUNGEON
Every year on 30th September,
the museum experiences major technical problems with the installation
dedicated to Jack the Ripper. The lighting goes out on the scenes of the
two women murdered on that day. The atmosphere
with a strange tension. At other times employees have experienced bizarre
happenings when alone. Candles suddenly light in the darkness. Sound
effects come on in the middle of the night. Shadowy beings
across the visual displays. Voices murmur from the Ripper exhibit.
Whatever the cause of these strange happenings, it is certainly true that
Jack the Ripper has left a mark on the minds of Londoners that no amount
of time can remove.
New English Digest
plague: epidemic disease (plagaa)
deliberate infliction of pain and suffering (la crueldad)
punished: penalized (castigado/a)
chilling: scary (escalofriantes)
dreadful: atrocious (atroces)
shrouded: wrapped (envolvieron,
hacked: cut (destrozado)
trial: legal proceedings (juicio)
who kills with poison (asesino envenenador)
continues to live (perdura, continúa vigente)
makes crunching noises (cruje)
flit: move along rapidly
(pasan, se mueven)