Not far from where Mary Kelly, the last victim of Jack the Ripper, was brutally slaughtered in her room in Millers Court, off Dorset Street lies her favourite pub, the Ten Bells. Mary was known to solicit on the corner outside and woe betide anyone else who decided to take her spot, as she would drive them off very quickly. Jack may well have drunk here also before his killing sprees!
The pub originally stood at 12 Red Lion Street, but this was pulled down as part of the cutting of Commercial Street in 1851, and the owners of the Ten Bells, Truman Hanbury Buxton & Co (whose name is still seen on the side), were able to move the public house to its current position. Earlier, in 1755 it was known as the Eight Bells Alehouse, but when Christchurch Spitalfields installed new bells with two extra chimes it got the current name.
It has an impressive interior, with all the original Victorian tiled panels surrounding a central bar. Of particular note is the mural of painted tiles on the wall on the north side of the building, called ‘Spitalfields in Ye Olden Time – Visiting a Weaver's Shop’. This commemorates the weaving heritage of the area, and if you look carefully you can see a dark-skinned boy dressed in a turban, accompanying the couple, probably either a slave or serving boy. This dates from the late nineteenth century and was designed by W. B.
Simpson and Sons.
There is also a more modern mural near the other door, as when The Ten Bells was renovated by current landlord John Twomey in December 2010 to show the pub's Victorian heritage, it also included the addition of a new mural titled ‘Spitalfields in Modern Times’. This was painted by artist Ian Harper. Rather than feature the weavers of the nineteenth century, the painting features twenty-first century Spitalfields scenes and characters, such as Gilbert and George, the famous artists who live in Fournier St that runs down the side of the pub.
The Ten Bells is a good pub to pop in after your Jack the Ripper tour, which ends very conveniently just across the road in Brushfield Street, in the entrance to the London Fruit and Wool Exchange.
In : Jack the Ripper
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