The “Chamber of Horrors” is a unique part of London’s Madame Tussauds wax museum.
The section is not just popular with visitors but also represents the historical origins of Madame Tussauds.
The concept dates back to the roots of Madame Tussaud, the founder of the wax museums.
During the French Revolution, Marie Tussaud was forced to create death masks of famous guillotine victims, including King Louis XVI, Queen Marie Antoinette, and many others.
These masks were displayed in what she called her “Caverne des Grands Voleurs” (Cavern of the Great Thieves), a precursor to the modern Chamber of Horrors.
Once she moved to London in 1802, she introduced these masks to British audiences through her traveling wax exhibition.
She would travel with her exhibition of severed heads and mutilated bodies made of wax for 33 years before creating a permanent arrangement.
When the permanent Madame Tussauds museum was inaugurated in London in 1835, the Chamber of Horrors was one of the original displays.
Chamber of Horrors gets removed
The Chamber of Horrors was part of Madame Tussauds London for almost two centuries before being removed in 2016.
The more family-friendly Sherlock Holmes Experience replaced it, but it was also closed after a few years.
Chamber of Horrors returns
After six years of being locked up at Madam Tussauds archives, the exhibits of the Chamber of Horrors were put back on display in October 2022.
The new chamber will feature some of the capital’s most infamous criminals from the past 150 years.
What’s on display at the Chamber of Horrors
The Chamber of Horrors was a controversial section but was also one of the most popular.
It features wax figures of some of the most notorious criminals and murderers in history and scenes of torture and execution.
We list some of the most popular exhibits below –
The Kray Twins
Ronnie and Reggie Kray, identical twin brothers, sat at the epicenter of organised crime in London’s East End from the late 1950s until 1967.
Their notoriety and influence were woven into the fabric of the city’s underworld, their names synonymous with power and fear.
In 1966, Ronnie Kray’s reputation was convicted for the murder of a fellow East End gang member, and the next year Reggie Kray was found guilty of a separate murder.
Both were handed life sentences for their heinous crimes, marking an end to their reign of terror in the East End.
John ‘Reg’ Christie
John Reginald Halliday Christie was a notorious figure, infamous for a series of horrific murders at his residence in Rillington Place, Notting Hill, during the 1940s and early 1950s.
He was confirmed to have brutally ended the lives of six people, though suspicions linger that the actual count may have been higher by two.
One of the most chilling aspects of Christie’s crimes was the wrongful execution of his neighbor, Timothy Evans, in 1950.
Evans was falsely accused and ultimately hanged for some of the murders actually committed by Christie.
Christie was found guilty and was hanged in 1953.
John George Haigh, commonly known as the Acid Bath Murderer, was a figure of dread and loathing in the late 1940s.
Between 1944 and 1949, Haigh was officially convicted of brutally taking the lives of six individuals.
However, his confessions revealed a gruesome reality; he claimed to have killed nine people.
Haigh’s modus operandi was uniquely horrifying. He would dispose of his victims’ bodies using sulphuric acid, which earned him the moniker Acid Bath Murderer.
Dennis Nilsen was convicted for several horrifying crimes in North London between 1978 and 1983.
He was found guilty of six murders and two attempted murders, all young men and boys.
At one point, Nilsen claimed to have killed as many as fifteen individuals, casting a darker shadow over his already gruesome legacy.
The story of Dennis Nilsen also highlights a controversial and disturbing aspect of law enforcement.
Campaigners have argued that police failed to treat the disappearances of the young men with the seriousness they deserved because of their prejudices towards the gay community.
Ruth Ellis found infamy in July 1955 when she was hanged for the premeditated murder of her lover.
In her trial at the Old Bailey, Ellis shared a grim account of her relationship with the victim, describing a pattern of abuse inflicted upon her by the deceased.
Ellis’ hanging marked a significant milestone in British legal history, as she became the last woman to be executed in the country.
Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen
Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, an American doctor residing in North London, met his grim fate in November 1910 when he was hanged for the murder of his wife, a fellow American and actress.
Her torso was discovered in a horrific state, buried under the brick floor of the basement of their Holloway home.
The investigation into Crippen’s wife’s disappearance was instigated by her friends, who found Crippen’s claims that she had relocated back to the US suspicious.
Crippen and his mistress had disguised themselves and fled the UK. However, their escape plan was thwarted in Canada, where they were apprehended and arrested.
Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper is among the most infamous criminals, evoking images of shadowy, foggy streets and chilling, unsolved murders.
Suspected of the murder of at least five women in the East End of London, specifically in and around the Whitechapel district, in 1888, Jack the Ripper was never officially caught or definitively identified.
However, based on a combination of well-documented historical evidence and more recent theories, the identity of Jack the Ripper in Madame Tussauds’ Chamber of Horrors takes the form of Aaron Kosminski.
Kosminski, originally a barber from Poland, had emigrated to England in the 1880s, around the same time the gruesome murders occurred.
In the late 19th century, a gruesome murder shocked Victorian London.
In 1890, a woman named Mary Eleanor Pearcey committed a horrifying act of violence.
Motivated by a twisted passion, Pearcey murdered the wife and child of her lover, Frank Hogg.
The chilling details of the crime unveiled a sinister use of an everyday object – a pram.
Pearcey used this seemingly innocent pram to transport the lifeless bodies of her victims under the cover of night.
After the investigation, the pram found its way back to the hands of the grieving Frank Hogg.
Marie Tussaud purchased the pram from Hogg for £25, ensuring this chilling symbol of a mother’s crime became a part of her notorious Chamber of Horrors exhibition.
FAQs about Chamber of Horrors
Tourists and locals visiting Madame Tussauds in London have questions about the Chamber of Horrors. We list some of them.
The horrifying section of Madame Tussauds focusing on the criminals of that era was first introduced as part of the wax statues exhibition in 1818.
Jack the Ripper, Mary Pearcey, Ruth Ellis, Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen, Dennis Nilsen, John Haigh, John ‘Reg’ Christie, etc., are some criminals showcased at Madame Tussauds London’s Chamber of Horrors.
After being closed for six years, the Chamber of Horrors in London reopened to the public in October 2022.
The regular tickets for Madame Tussauds London get you entry to the Chamber of Horrors. Visitors don’t need to buy special tickets to access the section.
Chamber of Horrors features details of serious crime, violence, and murder and includes real artifacts from crime scenes that some may
find distressing. Chamber of Horrors is best suited for visitors 16 years and above.
Guests can easily bypass the Chamber of Horrors experience. An alternative corridor to the next child-friendly section is signposted.
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