Now, if you thought the spiders were creepy, then this is positively chilling! It seems that Jack the Ripper himself may have walked the same pavements as you and I, back in the 1880s. Indeed, if Montague John Druitt was the true Ripper, then he probably drank in The Princess of Wales (he was in the hockey team that was based there), and definitely trudged up and down the hill to catch trains from the station to Charing Cross… Although he traveled First Class, unlike the lowly Bugle…
I’d never made the connection with Blackheath before, but the interweb is positively packed to the gills with Ripper info, supposition, and conspiracy. Now, it is quite possible that this man had nothing to do with the murders in Whitechapel, but either way, a fascinating picture develops of a rather tragic, short life spent in Blackheath.
It seems that Druitt (a lawyer by education) decided to embark upon a teaching career, and joined a boarding school in Blackheath in 1880. When I discovered this, I was certain that the school in question just had to be the gothic missionary school that towers over Blackheath station… But no, the school was at 9 Eliot Place, (just past the Hare and Billet pub, see googlemap). The road is now residential, but then was home to several schools.
Druitt’s father died of a heart attack in 1885, and three years later his mother committed suicide. He was dismissed from the school for some “serious trouble”, but it exactly what remains a mystery. His body was found floating in the Thames on December 31st 1888.
One of the police reports implied that there was additional evidence against him that could not be brought to light, and that he was “sexually insane”, which (apparently) was a Victorian euphemism for homosexuality.