London, with its long history, has no shortage of ghost stories. These continue to fascinate both locals and tourists alike. There are several ghost tours in London dedicated to visiting the sites of some of the city’s grisliest goings-on.
The East End of London is one such site. In the early 19th century, this section of the city was notorious for housing the gang of real-life body snatchers known as the Burkers. During their twelve-year reign of terror, the Burkers stole between 500 and 1000 freshly buried corpses from graveyards and sold them to doctors who needed bodies to practice dissection on. Each body was sold for about one pound and twelve pence.
The Burkers’ reputation was such that relatives of the recently deceased began to hire guards for their loved ones’ graves to prevent their bodies from being stolen. This was the origin of the phrases “Graveyard Shift” and “Saved the Bell”. When the gang ran out of dead bodies, they began committing murders to keep their racket going. They were non-discerning in their choices of victims, who ranged from everyone from young children to pregnant women.
“Business” was good until one day in 1831, when a doctor noticed something unusual about the Italian boy’s corpse he had just received from the Burkers. It was apparent to this doctor that the body had never been buried, and in fact had been killed very recently. Alarmed, the doctor contacted the authorities, who arrested the Burkers and put a stop to their nefarious activities once and for all.
Today, ghost Walking Tour take you through the East End to see the actual graveyards that the Burkers stole from, as well as the locations of the underground canals where they transported their bodies. History comes alive as you visit the areas in which the Burkers lived and performed their heinous deeds.