Polly’s Plaque at St Bride’s

Jun 23, 2022

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine, And Mary Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met.

They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales.

They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become more famous than any of these women.

~Hallie Rubenhold

In 1864, a woman named Mary Ann Nichols married in St Bride’s Church, The Journalists’ Church on Fleet Street, having been born in 1845 in Shoe Lane just off Fleet Street. She was known as Polly to her friends. Unfortunately, her future led to her living in the East of London around the deprived Whitechapel district. Mary Ann’s life came to an end when an unidentified murderer that many know as ‘Jack the Ripper’ killed her. Mary Anne Nichols was the first to be killed by the unidentified murderer. The night she died her friend from Wilmots reported that Polly had drunk away her funds for lodging and was forced to be out on the streets.
Following the launch of our tour, we connected with St. Brides Church in Fleet Street where Mary Ann was married. They have now commissioned and placed a plaque to remember Mary Anne and we hope this small step signifies an appetite in society for a change in focus and a more informed narrative around these murders and the victims.