Above: Looking into Mitre Square from the NW end, with the cafe on the right.
Until a few years ago, the almost unanimous verdict of anyone who ventured into Mitre Square was that it was ‘Dim and dingy’. Of course, that description suited the guides who took tourists on the nightly ‘Jack the Ripper Walk, because the unsavoury nature of the place only added to the creepy story which was part of their patter. It is believed that there were five murders committed by the same person. Mitre Square was the only location within the City boundary where one of the bodies from the Jack the Ripper murders was found. Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were murdered on the same night – in the early morning of Sunday 30 September 1888. The body of Elizabeth Stride had been found in Dutfield’s Yard, off Berner Street (now Henriques Street), in Whitechapel, a short distance east of Mitre Square. The body of Catherine Eddowes was found in Mitre Square in the City of London, three-quarters of an hour later. Her throat had been severed and the abdomen was ripped open by a long, deep, jagged wound. None of the buildings that surrounded Mitre Square from 1888 remain today and in some of the cases, even the streets do not exist either. That does not stop the guides from managing to weave a good story for those who turn up for the experience.
Above: Looking across Mitre Square from the SE.
Mitre Square remained an uninviting pedestrian area both by day and by night for many years but all that has now changed. As part of the Aldgate Project, completed in 2018, the dreary environment has been transformed into a beautiful garden and, on the NE side, a new cafe has been added. What was a place where you felt uneasy about being there has now become an inviting ‘mini oasis’ within the Square Mile to sit and enjoy the tranquillity of the square, away from the noise of the traffic and from the dangerous fumes from the exhaust pipes of cars and other traffic.
The City is to be congratulated on its improvement scheme. Aldgate Square was probably the most ambitious of the new open spaces but the nearby Mitre Square comes a close second in giving the City back to the pedestrians who walk around this part of the capital.