London's urban legends

London's urban legends

From plots on Jack the Ripper to the Ravens of the Tower, from the subway map to Jack the Jumper: a look at some of London's most interesting legends between folklore and tourism

Map of the subway built with lego (photo: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) London is one of the most publicized destinations for ghost tourism enthusiasts. You are spoiled for choice: numerous operators are competing to offer the tourist cheap thrills by visiting alleged haunted places or the scene of crimes. But do-it-yourself is not lacking, and thanks to the easily available guides you can launch into legend tripping, that is the visit of legendary places (or considered as such) accompanied by a little suspension of disbelief.

The mass tourism industry has always exploited the territory, but it also does the same with intangible resources such as folklore and tradition. If you invent them (ask Azzurrina). But where there is smoke sometimes there is roast, and London has a real heritage of distinctive urban legends, beyond their tourism.

Jack the jumper

For the fans from the Victorian era and steampunk fans this legendary character is well known. A "black man" who attacked women at night (above all), leaving behind only the stories of the victims. And here things get complicated, because since his first appearance in 1837, Jack's appearance hasn't been constant at all. Depending on the source, he was breathing fire, dressed in white or with a dark cloak. It had metal claws, and to some it looked like a bear, a devil, and even a bull. But, at least according to the newspapers that baptized him Spring-heeled Jack (literally: Jack with spring heels), there was one constant: he was very agile, capable of making superhuman leaps.

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