The Frying Pan Public House
However, a look at the red brickwork at the top corner of the building will quickly tell you that this building was not always used for it's current purpose. Picked out of the brickwork in bas relief is a crossed frying pan motif and lettering which show that in 1888 this was a public house called The Frying Pan, and it was here that the first of the recognised Ripper victims spent her last evening.
Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols was 43 years old at the time of her death, although it was said in contemporary reports that she looked younger. She had been married at the age of 19 and had five children, but in 1880 she and her husband separated, apparently because he was unable to cope with the fact that she had started to drink heavily in the previous three years or so. Initially he had agreed to pay her maintenance of five shillings per week, but two years later when he learned that she had turned to prostitution he discontinued payment.
Between 1880 and 1888 she had moved around quite a lot. For the first three years she had been in and out of workhouses and had lived for a time with her father but had moved out due to constant arguing over her disollute lifestyle. For a few years she lived with a man named Thomas Drew and the pair appear to have lived quite respectably, Polly having shown up at her Brother's funeral dressed well. But this relationship ended and she found herself back on the streets.
In early 1888 she worked for at time in Wandsworth, in service for a respectable family, the Cowdrey's, who were deeply religious and teetotal. However this ended when she absconded with clothing worth over two pounds, and by August 1888 she was living in the lodging houses of Whitechapel, selling her body to earn enough for her bed for the night and a few pints of beer or glasses of gin in the Frying Pan.