Dr Johnson mellowed after he too became famous. He attended Garrick’s funeral in Westminster Abbey in 1779 and cried openly during the service.
William Hogarth’s double portrait of Garrick and his wife was painted in this house. The actor was a man of so many different faces that neither Hogarth nor Sir Joshua Reynolds managed to capture his true likeness.
Reynolds hurled his palette to the floor in frustration. Hogarth painted several different faces of Garrick onto another canvas, then cut out the best one and stitched it into place.
This view of Commercial Street has hardly changed since 1888, when Jack the Ripper stalked the streets. Several of his victims were regulars at the Ten bells pub (grey building) and often picked up customers there.
In the early hours of 9 November, Mary Jane Kelly came along Commercial Street, drunk and singing. She badly needed money to pay the rent collector next morning. An acquaintance recalled seeing her here:
‘About 2 a.m. I was coming by Thrawl Street, Commercial Street… I met the woman Kelly and she said to me, Hutchinson will you lend me sixpence? I said I can’t… She went away toward Thrawl Street. A man coming in the opposite direction to Kelly tapped her on the shoulder.
‘He then placed his right hand around her shoulders. He had a kind of small parcel in his left hand with a kind of strap round it. I stood against the lamp of the Queen’s Head public house and watched him.
‘They both then went up the court together… I stood there for about three quarters of an hour to see if they came out. They did not, so I went away.’
Hutchinson described the man thus:
‘Slight moustache curled up each end and hair dark. Very surly looking. Dress, long dark coat, collar and cuffs trimmed astrakhan and a dark jacket under, light waistcoat, dark trousers, dark felt hat turned down in the middle, button boots and gaiters with white buttons, wore a very thick gold chain with linen collar, black tie with horseshoe pin, respectable appearance.’
The man was about 34. ‘All right, my dear,’ Mary Jane told him. ‘Come along. You’ll be comfortable.’ She led the man to her room in Miller’s Court (just behind the camera, to the left).
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT Question 114. Mary Jane Kelly became the fifth and last of Jack the Ripper’s known victims. What was different about her murder?
‘Scintillating’ – Literary Review
‘Sets an example that will be hard to equal’ – Daily Mail
Waterstone’s recommendation of the month