Okay, okay. I’ll just come out and say it (as if it wasn’t already obvious) I’m a Hera (Zee9) fangirl. There is simply not a build Hera creates that does not have me grabbing camera, pen, notebook and clicking my heels together in expectation of a teleport pretty much the moment I get to hear about it.
And so it is with her latest design, which has just opened to the public. Whitechapel is a build that takes over from (and kind-of overlaps with) October’s Whitby (which, if you missed it, you can read about here).
Whitechapel, in the East End of London, is perhaps most (infamously) well-known for the 11 Whitechapel murders (1888–91), five of which were said to have been the work of the mysterious serial killer known as Jack the Ripper. As such, it is a place beloved of drama and mystery, and in the last decade has been featured in two television series: BBC’s, Ripper Street (later financed by Amazon), and the UK Sky TV / American Showtime horror series Penny Dreadful.
It is from both of these, mixed with some additional inspirations that has given birth to this build, as Hera explains:
Many years back I did a game level in Unreal Tournament called From Hell, based on the movie. When I got to SL I wanted to re do it, but unfortunately someone had already taken all my Unreal Textures and used them here to build a Victorian RP sim which looked suspiciously like My Level [from the tournament]. In fact I only came to SL originally because a friend said many sims were using my textures, and of course they were 🙂 Such is SL.
Anyway, this is the Victorian sim I always wanted to build. It is based on three sources, which is why I call it “Penny Dreadful meets From Hell on Ripper Street” . Most of my favourite characters are here: Jack and all his murders, Sweeny Todd, Scrooge, Dorian grey, Alan Quartermain, Dr Jekyll, Victor Frankenstein, and all their associated locations from the aforementioned TV series. Hope you enjoy what you find, It was fun to do it at last!
– Hera (Zee9)
The setting is reached via Hera’s main landing point, which also gives access to Drune Gotham (which has reopened alongside of Whitechapel, the region having been closed to allow Hera to build the latter). From here, a further teleport will carry visitors to the sooty enclosure of Whitechapel underground station, a train hissing and chugging on the tracks (this is the era before the use of electricity as the means of locomotion for such transport under the city). No dress code is enforced, but Hera requests visitors consider being somewhat appropriately dressed for the period.
The station emerges on Commercial Road, which for those who are not familiar with the East End was, and remains, one of the main thoroughfares of the district, some 3 km (1.9 miles) in length, commencing a junction with Whitechapel High Street to run east to the (now old and redeveloped) London Docklands.
In particular, this part of Commercial Road connects to Hanabury Street (which I take to be a slight mis-spelling of “Hanbury Street”), where in 1884 Florence Eleanor Soper, the daughter-in-law of General William Booth of The Salvation Army, established The Women’s Social Work, a house intended to be a place where young woman might be persuaded not to turn to prostitution, and a retreat for those already suffering from the trade.
It was also in the back yard of No. 29 Hanbury St, that the body of Annie Chapman, believed to have been Jack the Ripper’s second victim, was found on September 8th, 1888. And indeed, the shop-come-house can be found here, complete with interior and its grisly backyard, although the real No. 29 Hanbury Street has long since gone from Whitechapel, with the number today applied to a building on the opposite side of the road.
Also within the setting are Berner Street, a further road exiting off of Commercial Road, and the place where the body of the Ripper’s third victim, Elizabeth Stride was found (Sunday 30th September 1888); Mitre Square (Catherine Eddowes, also 30th September 1888, within an hour of Stride’s murder); the house at Miller’s Court (wherein the body of Mary Jane Kelly, the Ripper’s final canonical victim, was found on the morning of November, 9th, 1888, the only victim found indoors; and finally, the narrow passage of Bucks Row, where on the morning of August 31st, 1888, covered by a tarpaulin, the body of the Ripper’s first canonical victim, Mary Ann Nichols was found.
Nor is it just the Ripper murders awaiting discovery.
Whilst I have not seen all of Penny Dreadful, there is much from that series awaiting discovery – be it Malcolm Murray study, the chamber in which Dorian Gray hides his portrait, Frankenstein’s attic laboratory; while from Ripper Street one might find other elements – such as what might be the station house for H Division of the London Police, and base of operations for Detective Inspector Edmund Reid and Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake. The latter, like many of the buildings along the streets, has an interior, making it – and them – suitable for photography and / or light role-play for the period; elsewhere, a reference to at least one game might also be found. All of this lies under an environment setting that is mindful of Whitby, but unique to Whitechapel.
As us usual with Hera’s builds, the work: structures, roads, signage, and more are all her own work, with only the various street décor – cars, lamps, carts, etc., and various items used into interiors or additional dressing coming from other creators. This is one of the reasons – alongside of her vision and attention to detail – that makes Hera’s design so visually engaging and worthy of praise.
But for now I have said enough: Whitechapel awaiting explorers and those who wish to delve into some of the mysteries bound with it; and I urge those with a love of exploring Second Life to visit sooner rather than later, lest Hera’s muse whispers to her and calls for a new location to be built. And, if you do visit and enjoy, please consider a donation to the Batbear at the landing point in a show of appreciation for Hera’s continuing work.
- Whitechapel / Drune Gotham landing point (Cloud Lake, rated Adult)