8 interesting facts about Speakers Corner in Hyde Park19th June 2014
It’s finally Summer which means outdoor debates at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park
During the summer months we like to make the most of the great outdoor space London has to offer and what better place to hold our informal debates than Speakers corner. Just yesterday we headed for Hyde Park with picnic and wine in hand to embark on the evening’s motion. If you don’t know anything about it, here are 8 interesting facts for you.
Speakers Corner Facts
- Speakers’ Corner is the most famous location for free speech in the world, you’ll find it at the Marble Arch entrance to Hyde Park
- Speakers’ Corner has symbolized the struggles in Great Britain to vote, speak, and assemble since 1855.
- It is tradition that the speakers at Speakers’ Corner mount up on soapboxes before making their speeches.
- Some of the most notable speakers at Speakers’ Corner have included George Bernard Shaw, Karl Marx and Winston Churchill, who have all mounted soapboxes to speak on the great issues of their day.
- Speakers’ Corner began in 1855 when 150,000 people gathered in this north- east corner of the park to demonstrate against a Sunday Trading Bill. There was no legal right of assembly there and only after several more demonstrations – notably by supporters of the Reform League in 1866 – was freedom of speech in the park established in 1872
- Anyone who wishes may speak on any subject as long as they avoid obscenity, blasphemy or any incitement to a breach of the peace. In fact, Police officers tend to disguise themselves as members of the general public as they wait for inappropriate language or anarchy to break out.
- There is a popular myth that states that Speakers’ Corner is located in Hyde Park because it was the previous location of the Tyburn Gallows; where men and women would speak their final words before hanging. While that is true, it is not the catalyst for Speakers’ Corner.
- In 1536 King Henry VIII confiscated Hyde Park from the monks of Westminster Abbey to use it primarily for hunting. However King Charles 1 opened the park to the public in 1637.
Join us next time!
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Its been proven that Talking to strangers can make you happier!
Find out more about John Corcoran’s 21 day happiness experiment in which he made it his mission to engage with new people. If general conversation is more up your street than debates - check our calendar for our monthly event ‘Talking to Strangers’ jointly hosted with author Tom Jones.
Speakers’ Corner Facts: Sources