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Ep 164: Women of Whitechapel, reframing the narrative.

Annie Chapman and her husband John

This week Katie Wignall returns and we talk about a group of very diverse women, who share one thing in common. They all lost their lives in Whitechapel in 1888. It's going to be a short blog this week, because there aren't a lot of images to share.

We talk on the blog about some of their stories, and about how we, as guides, can redress the balance. Katie runs a feminist Jack the ripper walk - about the women's lives rather than their deaths.

The picture above is Annie and John Chapman. Taken in 1869, to celebrate their wedding, at a studio in Brompton Rd. By then Annie was 27 and had been working in domestic service for a while. She grew up in Knightsbridge, where her father was in the army. What I couldn't remember exactly as we recorded was that when she was 12, four of her five siblings died of scarlet fever within just three weeks.

As I'm not sharing the mortuary photos here, Annie is the only lady that we have captured on film. There are various plaques that commemorate some of the others. Either in places they stayed, or where they are buried. But even on Annie's gravestone her name is written only slightly larger than the nickname of her killer. Thank goodness for this:

Plaque for Polly at St Bride's Church, Fleet St

And finally something that reminded me - When I was leading walks I did once meet someone who had traced her family tree back to Catherine Eddowes.

taken the book “the Victims of Jack the Ripper” by Neal Stubbings Sheldon.

Catherine Sarah Hall is Catherine Eddowes great granddaughter. Another reminder that these women were mothers and grandmothers, as well as wives, and sisters, and cousins. They lived extraordinary lives which brushed other notable moments: Polly Nichols may have been at the original Bloody Sunday in Trafalgar Sq. Catherine Eddowes visited the Great Exhibition. They were as complex as any of the rest of us, and their lives stories, finally being told, shed light on the lives of countless other women of Victorian London.

And Katie here:

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