The Ten Bells: A Historic East End Pub with a Modern Twist

If you are looking for a pub with a lot of character and history, you might visit the Ten Bells in Spitalfields. This pub has been around for over 400 years and has witnessed some of the most notorious events in the East End of London. It is most famous for its connection to Jack the Ripper, the mysterious serial killer who terrorised the area in the late 19th century. Two of his victims, Annie Chapman and Mary Jane Kelly, were regulars at the Ten Bells and may have met their fate there.

The Ten Bells Pub, Spitalfields.
The Ten Bells Pub, Spitalfields
by Ewan Munro

But the Ten Bells is more than just a pub with a dark past. It is lively and vibrant, offering great food, drinks and entertainment. This blog post will explore the history and the present of the Ten Bells, one of the most historic East End pubs.

Located on Commercial Street in the East End’s Spitalfields area, the Ten Bells pub may not look all that extraordinary from the outside. Its grand Victorian days are still visible in its imposing façade, and it has listed building status, but there is more to the pub than this.

It has an authentic history, especially if you’re interested in the exploits of Jack the Ripper!

History of the Ten Bells.

There has been a pub close to the current location of the Ten Bells since the mid-18th century. The original pub stood a little distance from its current location and was moved a few metres in the 1850s during developments in the Commercial Street area. It wasn’t originally called the Ten Bells and has had various names. Most of these names, however, give a nod to the church next door to the pub, Christ Church, and its number of bell peals.

In the 1750s, the pub was called the Eight Bells Alehouse. It is thought that this name became out-of-date when the church changed its bell peals and added two more, hence the new name. The first record of its registration as the Ten Bells came in the 1790s. The pub has generally stayed with this name over the years, despite the church increasing the number of bell peals up to 12 and then down to 8 again!

It did change its name once, however, in the 1970s, when it became Jack the Ripper and turned into a gruesome kind of theme pub. The campaign group, Reclaim the Night persuaded the brewery to drop this name in the 1980s because the pub’s name should not commemorate the murder of women.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, pubs like the Ten Bells became a home-from-home for local East End workers, especially casual labourers. These workers rented beds each night and had no homes to go to. They needed somewhere to be after work until they were allowed into their lodgings to sleep – for many, pubs like the Ten Bells became where they lived. They were also favoured haunts for local prostitutes.

The Ten Bells and Jack the Ripper

The Ten Bells is most famous for its connections with Jack the Ripper. We know nothing about the killer, as his identity was never discovered. Some say he might have spent time in the Ten Bells, as he ‘worked’ in the area, but we’ll never know. We do know for a fact, however, that two of his victims had close connections to the pub, which is located in the heart of the East End area in which he committed his crimes. All his victims may have drunk in the pub, as they all lived relatively close to it.

It is thought that one of the last sightings of Annie Chapman was in the Ten Bells just a short time before she was murdered. She was killed in Hanbury Street, close to the pub. One of the many unfounded rumours of the time is that she was enticed out of the Ten Bells just before her gory death by a horrid and suspicious-looking man. There is no proof that this happened or that the man was Jack the Ripper.

Another victim, Mary Kelly, had more direct links to the Ten Bells. She plied her trade or had her ‘pitch’ outside the pub for many years. One of the last people to see Mary Kelly before she died had spent some time with her in the pub having drinks the night before her murder. Nobody else came forward to say that they had seen Kelly after she left the pub, and she was probably killed soon afterwards in her home.

These connections have made the Ten Bells the focus of many Ripper theories, and it still figures as a landmark spot on most Jack the Ripper tours. Once you walk in through the doors, you return in time as the pub retains much of its original look and feel.

London Pub Renovation

Its dark history aside, the Ten Bells is worth visiting to see its original Victorian tiling and murals, some of which date back to the 19th century, commemorating the local weavers who lived in Spitalfields then. A renovation in 2010 added a new mural to the mix. This one celebrates modern Spitalfields and includes local characters such as the artists Gilbert and George.

The Ten Bells also have a famous landlord connection and a murderous one. One of its landlords in the 1880s was Jamie Oliver’s great-great-grandfather. If you’ve ever seen Jamie’s Great Britain, you’ll have seen the episode where the chef visited the pub to discuss his East End heritage.


  • The Ten Bells is a historic pub and a vibrant and lively one. It hosts regular events, such as live music, comedy nights, quizzes and art exhibitions. It also has a rooftop terrace that offers stunning views of the city skyline and the church spire. The pub serves a range of craft beers, ciders, wines and cocktails, and traditional pub food with a modern twist.
  • The pub’s interior reflects its long and rich history. It has original Victorian features, such as tiled walls, ornate mirrors and chandeliers. It also has some memorabilia related to Jack the Ripper, such as newspaper clippings, photographs and posters. The pub even has a mural of the infamous serial killer. However, the pub does not glorify or exploit its connection to the murders but acknowledges its part in the area’s history.
  • The Ten Bells are not the only pub in the East End with a link to Jack the Ripper. Another one is the Princess Alice, which is located on Commercial Street, opposite the Ten Bells. This pub was named after Queen Victoria’s daughter, who died of diphtheria in 1878. It is said that Mary Jane Kelly, the last and most brutally killed victim of Jack the Ripper, drank here on the night of her murder. She was seen leaving the pub with a man who matched the killer’s description.

1 thought on “The Ten Bells: A Historic East End Pub with a Modern Twist”

  1. My Swedish Great Grandfather, Gustaf Olsson lived in The East India Arms pub (125 High Street Poplar) but I can’t find any photos or details on it, I do know the Land Lady was witness to his marriage in 1909 when he married a local girl, they then ended up in Oban Street (which still exists!) Do any photos of the pub survive? Thanks


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.