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Halloween in London

"A Suspicious Character" from the Illustrated London News, October 1888.
"A Suspicious Character" from the Illustrated London News, October 1888.
Illustrated London News, public domain

Halloween isn't a holiday that is celebrated all around the world and even if it is celebrated, it is often different from the costumes and candy we are used to. Having said that; if you find yourself in a foreign land when the calendar hits October 31st there are plenty of ways to get into the spirit of the holiday.

London's history dates back to before Roman times so it should not be surprising that the city is steeped with ghosts from the past. The city has taken advantage of its long, and some times gruesome, history. There are many walking tour companies that offer a wide variety of night walking tours. These tours range from the mildest of informational and historical tours to creepy, ghost-filled tours that will at the very least, leave you with goose bumps. Any hotel or bed & breakfast stocked with a good brochure display, will have information on available ghost tours. One of the best is the Jack the Ripper tour. Leaving from Tower Hill tube station, the tour will take you along the streets and alleys where the mysterious Jack wreaked havoc and terror over 120 years ago. Most of the area holds little resemblance to the gritty neighborhood where at least five women became victims of one of the most famous serial killers. but the creepiness still pervades as you walk along the empty streets that are only lit by an occasional lamp post. As the group winds its way through the streets of a darkened London, the tour guide recounts the events of 1888. The area known as Whitechapel was a rough neighborhood to say the least. Filled with tenement housing, public houses, and women of ill repute crime was an everyday occurrence. But in the fall of 1888, a madman descended upon the neighborhood and terrorized the entire city. The brutality, skill and mystery of those murders still intrigue people to this day.

As the tour comes to an end, it usually never fails that the brave group that started out as strangers has huddled closer together and some are even arm in arm. The end point of one particular tour is the Ten Bells Tavern, the actual tavern where many of the victims of Jack the Ripper drank and peddled their wears. The tavern is a jewel in of itself, the inside not having changed since the 1880s. You can belly up to the bar and enjoy a drink to steady your nerves and prepare yourself for the return trip down the dark streets of east London to the tube station.

London has many more mysteries and dark tales to share with visitors who are eager to see a different side of the city. 

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