London, England. A city that seems harmless and friendly enough. Yet there is another side to the city that people rarely hear about, the city's dark underside. This episode includes a few of the more sordid stories from London's past.
Throughout its history London has always had a gritty, bloody side to it. The ruling classes has secret societies that did what they wanted , but when some people in those secret societies grew bored with their decadent life they turned to darker temptations. They had to go outside of London and below the ground to Wycombe, outside of London. There, 300 feet beneath a church, could be found the subterranean headquarters of the Hellfire Club, a group of people who held orgies and had ritual human sacrifices, as well as possibly practicing black magic. A series of tunnels and cave that began as a chalk mine were transformed into a secret lair for the members of the Hellfire Club to meet. The main passage stretches for over 1/2 a mile, leading to the other passages and caves. Francis Dashwood, a British aristocrat, was a prominent member of the organization as were other important members of parliament. Drinking, gambling, and prostitution were all practiced at the ceremonies, that were thought to have had satanic overtones. The clubhouse was built to simulate the mouth of hell, which in the 1700s would have been sacrilege and punishable by death.
Witches figured in London's history as something to fear, yet they were little more than ordinary citizens practicing rituals. A quarry system of tunnels, called Bedlam's Bank, from 1200 still exist underground with over 10 miles of passages underground today. The miners who originally worked the quarries thought they were portals to hell, so they brought things with them to help ward off the evil. Someone put chalk marks, or charms, on the wall to help them. It is believed the person w or persons ho made the marks was most likely a member of the quarry crew. Witches scared people and were subject to arrest and possible death. Yet, the marks on the wall show that the miners were more scared of possible evil than of society's rules.
Overcrowding in Victorian London was a real problem and there was little room to bury the dead, who were often barely covered with dirt. With that easy accessibility, a black market existed for the selling of corpses to doctors for research because the only legal source of bodies were executed criminals. People were worried about their body and those of their family being stolen because they believed that a body needed to be buried intact in order to get into heaven. In order to keep the bodies safe, catacomb were often built that were inaccessible to others and the dead were kept there. There were common areas with multiple coffins as well as private sections.
Celtic tribes, known as Druids, lived in ancient England. They practiced rituals related to their religion and when they were killed off their practices died with them. Outside of London in a city called Chislehurst, in some caves, evidence of what their rituals were has been found. The passages covered about 20 acres, in three sections below a hill built by the Celts, the Romans, and the Saxons in that order. An altar-like structure, believed to have been carved out by the Druids for human sacrifices, was built prominently in the cave.
Sweeney Todd and Jack The Ripper both were said to have used the underground of England to commit and hide their crimes. Sweeney Todd is supposed to have been right next to the church, which would have allowed him to use its crypt to get underground where he could then move around easily. Like Sweeney Todd, Jack The Ripper used London's underground to get around and elude those who chased him. He managed to kill five people without ever even being seen.
To see these segments and learn all the details of ancient London, watch City Of Blood!
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