|A Ripperologist Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperologist No. 13, October 1997. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.|
It was just past one o'clock on the afternoon of Monday 8th September, 1888 that the mutilated remains of Catharine Eddowes were collected from the Golden Lane Mortuary in the City of London by Mr G Hawkes, the undertaker, whom, we are told, took it upon himself, not only too provide the funeral facilities for Catharine, but also to personally meet the costs involved. Catharine, who was 43 years old is shown in the City of London Cemetery Burial Register as having last resided at 55 flower and Dean Street, Spitalfields.
Her body, which had been placed in a plain elm coffin, was carried from the mortuary by four pall bearers to the open glass hearse which was pulled by two black horses each wearing a large black plume on its forehead. The man with whom Catharine had lived for the last seven years of her life, Mr John Kelly, an Irishman, was amongst the principal mourners in one of the following carriages, with her daughter, Mrs Annie Phillips, and her two sisters, Mrs Eliza Gold and Mrs Elizabeth Fisher.
Reports from that time indicate that a vast, concourse of people had assembled outside the mortuary, some of whom had come to pay respects, while others - many others - were brought there by common curiosity.
Superintendent Foster and a large number of the City of London Police officers were in attendance, to assist in the collection of the body and the safe passage of the funeral cortege to the boundary of the City area, where, at Old Street there waited a large force of Metropolitan Police officers, under the control of Inspector Barn ham, to take the cortege on to the Little 11ford Cemetery, at Manor Park, known today as the City of London Cemetery.
The funeral procession, followed by many people, passed slowly along Mile End Road and on through Bow and Stratford. Along the route many people stood expressing their sympathy, not only for the ill-fated woman but also for the mourning relatives following her coffin.
The cortege was met by a large crowd at the cemetary gates but after it had passed through they were closed against them Until after the service and interment had taken place.
The graveside burial service was conducted by the Reverend T N Dunscornbe, and Catharine's remains were laid to rest in consecrated ground. This was not considered the accepted thing for women of her class, for Elizabeth Stride, murdered on the same day as Catharine, was buried in unconsecrated ground in the East London Cemetery.
Catharine Eddowes was buried in a public grave in the Cemetery Square No. 318, grave No. 49336, and the Cemetery Interment Register lists her as a `2nd Class Common Interment'. It is interesting to note that Mary Ann Nichols, known locally as 'Polly', who, like Catharine, was a victim of the Whitechapel murderer, was laid to rest not thirty feet from Catharine in grave No. 49500 in the same Square 318.
Catherine had no headstone, but since then, both her grave and that of Mary Ann have been covered by a lawned area which now falls within the beautiful memorial gardens of the cemetery. So today both ladies rest in a place of beauty. In a letter to The Times George Bernard Shaw once described the Whitechapel streets on which they had endured their lives as being the "cesspi" of the country's Capital.
In July 1996 the Cemetery Authorities decided the time had come to mark the sites of each of the women with a commemorative bronze plaque. These plaques are not over the actual gravesites but lie by the edge of the roadway which runs through Square No. 318, in order to attract the attention of passers by to the plots of the two ladies.
Both plaques, however, show a misspelling of name, Eddowes is spelt without an 'E', whilst Nichols has an added 'L'. The fault however, does not lie with today's cemetery authorities, but with those at the time of the ladies interment in 1888, since in the registers showing the details of their burials both names are misspelt.
How unfortunate for these two ladies, since they have lain in unmarked sites for over 108 years, though now their graves along with many others, have been swallowed up within the boundaries of a beautiful lawned area upon which many tread completely unaware of who once lay beneath their feet.