The London Dungeon is an interactive tour through the 1000 years of gory and macabre history of London. In the tour, I was assigned to a group of 20 to 30 people and we walked as a cohort through the 110-minute-tour of London’s history. The history is portrayed through all the interactions with the actors/actresses and the stories in each room. There are several rooms that stood out to me in terms of my interest in the history, the effectiveness of how the rooms were set and how the actors/actresses portray the stories. Here are some rooms that I was most engaged in:
The Tyrant – Boat Ride:
After our descend down a lift, we were in for a boat ride. During King Henry VIII’s reign, traitors would be escorted on the Thames and under the Traitors Gate to the Tower of London where they would be executed. We were regarded as traitors, and will join Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s infamous wife, on the Thames where we will meet our fate. The line for the ride was a bit long, and stopped the flow of the thrill. We were waiting for a big group of people before us to go on the ride slowly. This lost the sense of realness to it. But when we got on the tyrant boat, the journey ride was full of uncertainty. The boat was forced by Henry VIII’s wrath: showing how terrifying Henry VIII’s can be when he discovers traitors.
The Plague Doctor:
The plague is a disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. Since the bacteria are usually found in rodents and fleas, people mainly contract the bacteria by rat bites or flea bites. The Black Death, caused by Yersinia pestis, killed about 50 million people in Europe during the 14th century from the year 1346 to 1353. This was about 60% of Europe’s entire population. In the summer of the year 1665, 15% of the London population was killed by the Plague. In the Dungeon, we were introduced to the Plague Doctor, who, unfortunately, died as a result of the plague. The assistant demonstrated a medical procedure using leeches to cure a patient whom he picked from our group. At the time of the Plague, doctors used leeches in hopes to cure the disease. They believed that the leeches would suck out bad blood and that the body would produce new healthy blood. However, many patients died as a result of the loss of too much blood.
The Great Fire of London:
On September 2nd 1666, one year after the 1665 Plague, a fire started in the King’s Bakery in Pudding Lane in the east of London. The wooden houses were very dry since it was a hot summer and there was no rain for many weeks. Many wooden houses were burnt down, and the fire swept through most of the east side of London. Positively, the fire had swept many rats carrying Yersinia pestis, and decreased the spreading of the plague. In the Dungeon, we were invited into a house when suddenly all the glass windows broke out with flames, and we had to quickly leave. I have learnt about the Great Fire of London as a first grade student in primary school, and finally I have come to experience the simulation!
Story says that he is a barber who murders his clients and passes them on to Mrs. Margery Lovett, his lover, who produces pies using human meat. We went into the pie shop first, and Mrs. Margery called on people who she thought would make good pies, and then she “accidentally” opened a cupboard that had a body in it. In my opinion, she was the scariest and the best actress. I will definitely remember the moment when I desperately tried to avoid eye contact with her. Then we were shown to Sweeney Todd’s barber shop. We all sat on a barber chair each, and then the lights were turned off and the sound of Sweeney talking was everywhere. One second he could be at one corner of the room, the next he could be right behind you. The chairs had surround wind and sound systems that were used to make us feel the scissors chopping our hair behind our ears. The scariest part was when a spotlight was turned on, and it was shining on me. I was so terrified that I wanted to switch places with my friend sitting next to me. I thought I was the chosen one to be picked on. But then the lights started to turn on around the room. Way to create suspense! I am now very aware of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Margery Lovett!
Jack the Ripper:
We walked through the misty streets to arrive at the Ten Bells Pub where Jack the Ripper’s victims once drank. In the East End of London in 1888, five – possibly six – women were killed, and the identity of the killer is still unknown. All the victims were prostitutes, and most of them were mutilated. This is an alarming situation! It was a thundery night, and Mrs. Waldren, the landlady, told us about spooky tales. The storm was so violent it cut the electricity and the room went pitch black. Then there was occasional lightning; each time lightning struck, Jack the Ripper would appear at different places in the pub. It was like watching a moving picture with Jack the Ripper holding a bloody knife in front of people’s faces. I was glad I wasn’t sitting at the table where he went up to so close!
Overall, I really enjoyed the thrill of the interactive tour and the experience of fear in a historical setting. I learnt a substantial amount of London’s gory history, and I am sure many people did, too.
For more information on The London Dungeon, click here:
-Proud Chanarat ’19