London is a vibrant, multicultural city that welcomes around 30 million tourists every year.
A city that can be described as a nirvana for tourists, satisfying many travelers’ thirst for knowledge in this historical wonderland.
Yet, as bright and shiny as the capital city of England appears to be on the surface, what lies beneath is a history of darkness, murder, and mayhem.
This underlying darkness makes London a perfect destination for those who have a love of dark tourism and are looking for their next adventure.
Here are five places that should be on the list of every dark tourist exploring London.
Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot
More than four centuries have passed, and the foiled gunpowder plot of Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators is still widely celebrated throughout the UK on the fifth of November each year.
Guy Fawkes was caught red-handed attempting to blow up the House of Lords, and with it, the ruling monarch at the time, King James I.
Unable to explain why he was igniting 36 barrels of gunpowder in a government building, Guy Fawkes was captured for treason.
After weeks of torture in the Tower of London, at the King’s behest, this infamous anarchist was eventually dragged to West Minster Yard by a horse before being hanged, drawn, and quartered.
Tourists can still visit the western part of West Minster Yard and let their imagination run wild as they picture one of Britain’s most well-known terrorists gasping his last breath.
It costs nothing to visit, and they can also take the time to marvel at Westminster as it stands today.
For those planning a visit to the UK to coincide with the fifth of November, try and make time to go to an organized Guy Fawkes event where fireworks and bonfires create a spectacular show.
Just look out for the symbolic ‘Guy’ on the bonfire.
The Tower of London
Hopping over to the Tower of London, tourists can continue their exploration of Guy Fawkes and see the white tower where he was imprisoned for his weeks of torture before his brutal execution.
It is worth noting that he was not the only infamous character to be held prisoner here.
Anne Boleyn, the second of King Henry the VIII’s wives, took residence here while she awaited her beheading.
Murder, treason, and ghostly goings-on are no stranger to the Tower of London, with hundreds of years of dark history packed within its stone walls.
Learn these tales from the Yeoman Guard who keep this fortress safe while still finding the time to talk to tourists and show them around.
Try and look for the famous ravens of the tower. It is rumored that if any of the six ravens leave their fortress, it will bring about the fall of the Kingdom.
Luckily, there are seven resident ravens, to be on the safe side.
Set aside a good portion of the day to explore this historical site as there is so much to explore and dark history to learn.
The London Dungeons
If spending only a short while in London, a visit to the London Dungeons is a must for any dark tourist or history fanatic.
While a little gimmicky with its staff in characters and playing their part, this is still a fantastic way to learn a little bit more about London’s gruesome past in a short space of time.
Look around some of the torture implements in the torture chamber.
Or maybe visit Mrs. Lovett’s Pie Shop while discovering the horrific tale of Sweeney Todd who turned his unsuspecting victims into meat pies and sold them to the locals.
Jack the Ripper is another feature of the dungeons and proves to be the classic ‘whodunnit’ case that has baffled historians for decades.
Lots of fun to be had here as London’s horrific history is told, very much, tongue in cheek.
Jack the Ripper Walk
The case of Jack the Ripper brings out everyone’s inner detective.
This makes joining a Jack the Ripper walk while visiting London is an absolute must for those with interest in the dark side of humanity.
Walk the streets accompanied by a guide while hearing about Jack’s lady of the night victims, their missing organs, and brutal murders and try to piece together who Jack the Ripper was.
With surgical precision, he removed organs and sliced his unfortunate victims before leaving them exposed to the elements for the local ‘bobby’ or unsuspecting local to find.
Follow Jack’s footsteps and see where the bodies were discovered in this grizzly tale in the Whitechapel area of London.
While these guided tours may answer many questions, they still leave more unanswered: why did he take their reproductive organs, how did he select his victims, and why did he suddenly stop?
What is your take on the mystery?
Cross Bones Graveyard
Some consider it the oldest profession in the world. Ladies of the night were a frequent feature of London in times gone by, and just outside what used to be the city limits lies a plot of unconsecrated ground called Cross Bones Graveyard, is many of their final resting places.
Here, the tourist can expect to find a memorial garden decorated with trinkets and ribbons to acknowledge those who are held within its grounds.
For a long time, the locals politely referred to it as a ‘single woman’s churchyard,’ but it also welcomed paupers and outcasts of society for burial.
This graveyard was eventually closed to new residents in 1853 due to mass overcrowding, which was confirmed when the Museum of London Archaeology Service excavated the site between the years 1991-98 to make way for work on the underground.
They uncovered bodies buried on top of bodies and found many had died of common ailments of that their time like TB and smallpox.
In total, it is estimated that the remains of almost 15,000 people are lying in Crossbones Graveyard in unmarked graves.
That’s an eerily high number of souls that have passed without a ‘proper’ burial that can leave most of us with chills.
London is a perfect city to visit at any time of year for the dark tourist.
With centuries of brutal history, many can spend days exploring and satisfying their morbid curiosities.
From serial killers and beheadings to corruption and plots, there is something that will appeal to every dark tourist….and then some.