ten bells pub

This is the Ten Bells Pub, on Commercial and Fournier Streets in Whitechapel, London. There has been a pub on this site since at least the time of the American Revolution, but its most famous hour came in 1888 and 1889, when two women–Annie Chapman and Mary Jane Kelly–drank there. In fact, having a drink at the Ten Bells was one of the very last things Annie Chapman ever did. On September 8, 1888, right after she walked out of the pub, she was murdered by Jack the Ripper.

Mary Jane Kelly also drank at the Ten Bells. She was a prostitute, and it was rumored that she hustled clients on the sidewalk outside the pub. She too wound up as a victim of Jack the Ripper, torn and slashed by the vicious serial killer on the night of November 9, 1888.

I’ve had drinks at the Ten Bells Pub twice. The first time was in 2001, when I brought my then-girlfriend, who was from Sweden. (Yes, although I am married to a guy, I have dated women–I’m bisexual). The next time was in the summer of 2003, during the heat wave, on one of the hottest nights in London’s history. I played pool there with a very attractive long-haired fellow whose name I forget. Good times.

This pub is known not only because of the Jack the Ripper victims, but for a unique piece of art on one of its walls: a cobalt tile mural depicting French Huguenots who emigrated to England in the 1780s. The mural is one of its kind in the world. It’s pretty stunning.