Speakers' Corner
A Speakers' Corner is an area where open-air public speaking
Public speaking
Public speaking is the process of speaking to a group of people in a structured, deliberate manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain the listeners...

, debate and discussion are allowed. The original and most noted is in the north-east corner of Hyde Park
Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in central London, United Kingdom, and one of the Royal Parks of London, famous for its Speakers' Corner.The park is divided in two by the Serpentine...

 in London, United Kingdom. Speakers there may speak on any subject, as long as the police consider their speeches lawful, although this right is not restricted to Speakers' Corner only. Contrary to popular belief, there is no immunity from the law, nor are any subjects proscribed, but in practice the police tend to be tolerant and therefore intervene only when they receive a complaint or if they hear profanity
Profanity is a show of disrespect, or a desecration or debasement of someone or something. Profanity can take the form of words, expressions, gestures, or other social behaviors that are socially constructed or interpreted as insulting, rude, vulgar, obscene, desecrating, or other forms.The...


Historically there were a number of other areas designated as Speakers' Corners in other parks in London (e.g., Finsbury Park
Finsbury Park
Finsbury Park is a 46 hectare public park in the London Borough of Haringey. Officially part of the London area of Harringay, it is also adjacent to Stroud Green, the Finsbury Park district and Manor House. It was one of the first of the great London parks laid out in the Victorian...

, Clapham Common
Clapham Common
Clapham Common is an 89 hectare triangular area of grassland situated in south London, England. It was historically common land for the parishes of Battersea and Clapham, but was converted to parkland under the terms of the Metropolitan Commons Act 1878.43 hectares of the common are within the...

, Kennington Park
Kennington Park
Kennington Park is in Kennington in London, England, and lies between Kennington Park Road and St Agnes Place. It was opened in 1854. Previously the site had been Kennington Common. This is where the Chartists gathered for their biggest 'monster rally' on 10 April 1848...

 and Victoria Park
Victoria Park, East London
Victoria Park is 86.18 hectares of open space that stretches out across part of the East End of London, England bordering parts of Bethnal Green, Hackney, and Bow, such as along Old Ford Road, London E3 and Victoria Park Road E9. The park is entirely within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets...

). More recently they have been set up in other British cities, and there are also Speakers' Corners in other countries.

Hyde Park

Though Hyde Park Speakers' Corner is considered the paved area closest to Marble Arch
Marble Arch
Marble Arch is a white Carrara marble monument that now stands on a large traffic island at the junction of Oxford Street, Park Lane, and Edgware Road, almost directly opposite Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park in London, England...

, legally the public speaking area extends beyond the Reform Tree and covers a large area from Marble Arch to Victoria Gate, then along the Serpentine to Hyde Park Corner and the Broad Walk running from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch.

Public riots broke out in the park in 1855, in protest over the Sunday Trading Bill, which forbade buying and selling on a Sunday, the only day working people had off. The riots were described by Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 as the beginning of the English revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...


The Chartist
Chartism was a movement for political and social reform in the United Kingdom during the mid-19th century, between 1838 and 1859. It takes its name from the People's Charter of 1838. Chartism was possibly the first mass working class labour movement in the world...

 movement used Hyde Park as a point of assembly for workers' protests, but no permanent speaking location was established. The Reform League
Reform League
The Reform League was established in 1865 to press for manhood suffrage and the ballot in Great Britain. It collaborated with the more moderate and middle class Reform Union and gave strong support to the abortive Reform Bill 1866 and the successful Reform Act 1867...

 organised a massive demonstration in 1866 and then again in 1867, which compelled the government to extend the franchise to include most working-class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...


The riots and agitation for democratic reform encouraged some to force the issue of the "right to speak" in Hyde Park. The Parks Regulation Act 1872 delegated the issue of permitting public meetings to the park authorities (rather than central government). Contrary to popular belief, it does not confer a statutory basis for the right to speak at Speakers' Corner. Parliamentary debates on the Act illustrate that a general principle of being able to meet and speak was not the intention, but that some areas would be permitted to be used for that purpose.

Since that time, it has become a traditional site for public speeches and debate, as well as the main site of protest and assembly in Britain. There are some who contend that the tradition has a connection with the Tyburn
Tyburn is a former village just outside the then boundaries of London that was best known as a place of public execution.Tyburn may also refer to:* Tyburn , river and historical water source in London...

 gallows, where the condemned man was allowed to speak before being hanged.

Although many of its regular speakers are non-mainstream, Speakers' Corner was frequented by Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

, George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

, C. L. R. James
C. L. R. James
Cyril Lionel Robert James , who sometimes wrote under the pen-name J.R. Johnson, was an Afro-Trinidadian historian, journalist, socialist theorist and essayist. His works are influential in various theoretical, social, and historiographical contexts...

, Ben Tillett
Ben Tillett
Benjamin Tillett was a British socialist, trade union leader and politician. He was born in Bristol and began his working life as a sailor, before travelling to London and taking up work as a docker....

, Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., ONH was a Jamaican publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator who was a staunch proponent of the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League...

, Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966. Overseeing the nation's independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and the first Prime Minister of Ghana...

 and William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

. Its existence is frequently upheld as a demonstration of free speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

, as anyone can turn up unannounced and talk on almost any subject, although always at the risk of being heckled
A heckler is a person who harass and try to disconcert others with questions, challenges, or gibes.Hecklers are often known to shout disparaging comments at a performance or event, or interrupts set-piece speeches, for example at a political meeting, with intent to disturb its performers or...

 by regulars. Lord Justice Sedley, in his decision regarding Redmond-Bate v Director of Public Prosecutions
Redmond-Bate v Director of Public Prosecutions
Redmond-Bate v Director of Public Prosecutions [1999] EWHC Admin 732, was a case heard before the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court regarding freedom of speech and breach of the peace...

 (1999), described Speakers' Corner as demonstrating "the tolerance which is both extended by the law to opinion of every kind and expected by the law in the conduct of those who disagree, even strongly, with what they hear." The ruling famously established in English case law that freedom of speech could not be limited to the inoffensive but extended also to "the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome, and the provocative, as long as such speech did not tend to provoke violence", and that the right to free speech accorded by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights also accorded the right to be offensive.

In the late 19th century, for instance, a combination of park by-laws, use of the Highways Acts and use of venue licensing powers of the London County Council
London County Council
London County Council was the principal local government body for the County of London, throughout its 1889–1965 existence, and the first London-wide general municipal authority to be directly elected. It covered the area today known as Inner London and was replaced by the Greater London Council...

 made it one of the few places where socialist speakers could meet and debate.

In 2003 the park authorities tried to ban a demonstration set for February 15 against the War in Iraq. This caused uproar and forced a climb-down.

Noted speakers

The following organisations and individuals, listed here in chronological order, have (had) a well-established history of speaking regularly in Hyde Park.
  • Socialist Party of Great Britain
    Socialist Party of Great Britain
    The Socialist Party of Great Britain , is a small Marxist political party within the impossibilist tradition. It is best known for its advocacy of using the ballot box for revolutionary purposes; opposition to reformism; and its early adoption of the theory of state capitalism to describe the...

     (since 1904)
  • Catholic Evidence Guild
    Catholic Evidence Guild
    The Catholic Evidence Guild is a loose international association of Roman Catholic lay volunteers which seeks to research and present clear and compelling explanations of the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. The organisation was founded in the Diocese of Westminster, England towards the end...

     (since 1918)
  • Vincent McNabb
    Vincent McNabb
    Vincent McNabb, O.P. was an Irish scholar and priest, based in London, active in evangelisation and apologetics.-Early life:...

     (ca. 1920–1943)
  • Bonar Thompson (1920–1960)
  • Frank Sheed
    Frank Sheed
    Frank Sheed, in full, Francis Joseph Sheed, , an Australian-born lawyer, was, like his wife Maisie Ward, a writer, publisher, and speaker. Famous in their day as the names behind the imprint Sheed & Ward and as forceful public lecturers in the Catholic Evidence Guild, their reputations have dimmed...

  • Philip Sansom
    Philip Sansom
    Philip Richard Sansom was an anarchist writer and activist.Sansom began working life as a commercial artist. During the Second World War he was a conscientious objector, and worked in farming for a while. From 1943 he worked on War Commentary, a wartime substitute for the anarchist paper Freedom...

  • John Webster
    John Webster (orator)
    John Webster, aka Mohammed Jon Webster, or more simply just Webster , was a soap box orator and public speaker who principally plied his trade at Speakers' Corner near Marble Arch at Hyde Park, London and beneath the Moreton Bay Fig trees of The Domain, Sydney from the early 1950s till the late 1980s...

     (1947–ca. 1985)
  • Donald Soper, Baron Soper (1950–ca. 1995)
  • Norman "The Walker" Schlund (1960s–1980s)
  • Robert Ogilvie (1960s–1980s)
  • Derek Prince
    Derek Prince
    Peter Derek Vaughan Prince was an international Bible teacher whose daily radio programme Derek Prince Legacy Radio broadcasts to half the population of the world in various languages...

  • Jim Huggon (1970s, 1980s)
  • Michael 'Lord' Barker (1970s, 1980s)
  • Tony Allen
    Tony Allen (comedian)
    Tony Allen is an English comedian and writer. Best known as one of the original "alternative comedians" Tony Allen's artistic career had taken many radical turns before he temporarily abandoned his Speaker's Corner "Full-Frontal Anarchy Platform" in May 1979 for the stage of London's Comedy Store...

     (since 1978)
  • Martin Besserman (since ca. 1978)
  • Peter Lumsden (ca. 1980–2007)
  • Heiko Khoo
    Heiko Khoo
    Heiko Khoo is a Marxist agitator currently based in London. He holds meetings at Hyde Park's Speakers Corner on Sunday afternoons and runs a weekly radio show on London's Arts Radio Station Resonance fm. broadcast on 104.4fm across London. He runs the speakers' corner web site . He was...

     (since 1986)
  • Ishmahil Blagrove (since 2004)


Leeds is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. In 2001 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, while the entire city has a population of 798,800 , making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial...

 is known to have its own Speakers' Corner, at Victoria Gardens on The Headrow
The Headrow
The Headrow is an avenue in Leeds city centre, West Yorkshire, England. It holds many of the city's premier shopping, civic and cultural attractions including Leeds Town Hall, Leeds Central Library, Leeds Art Gallery, The Henry Moore Institute and The Light...

, in front of the Leeds City Art Gallery, Central Library and Henry Moore Sculpture Centre building. It is a pivotal point in Leeds for justice and anti-war marches, most of which gather and terminate here, as well as for war memorial services due to the location of Leeds's Municipal Cenotaph.


Nottingham is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England. It is located in the ceremonial county of Nottinghamshire and represents one of eight members of the English Core Cities Group...

's Speakers' Corner was officially inaugurated by Jack Straw
Jack Straw
Jack Straw , British politician.Jack Straw may also refer to:* Jack Straw , English* "Jack Straw" , 1971 song by the Grateful Dead* Jack Straw by W...

, the UK Justice Secretary, on February 22, 2009. The designated space occupies a new landscaped extension to the North East of Old Market Square
Old Market Square
The Old Market Square is an open, pedestrianised city square in Nottingham, England. It is the largest such surviving square in the United Kingdom, forming the heart of the city, and covering an area of approximately 22,000 m²....

, at the junction of King Street and Queen Street. The large paved space includes the new statue of Brian Clough
Brian Clough
Brian Howard Clough, OBE was an English footballer and football manager. He is most notable for his success with Derby County and Nottingham Forest. His achievement of winning back-to-back European Cups with Nottingham Forest, a traditionally moderate provincial English club, is considered to be...

, the legendary, straight-talking former manager of Derby County
Derby County F.C.
Derby County Football Club is an English football based in Derby. the club play in the Football League Championship and is notable as being one of the twelve founder members of the Football League in 1888 and is, therefore, one of only ten clubs to have competed in every season of the English...

 and Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest F.C.
Nottingham Forest Football Club is an English Association Football club based in West Bridgford, Nottingham, that plays in the Football League Championship...

, who forged ties between the two cities famous for local rivalry.

Nottingham's Speakers' Corner is the pilot project of the Speakers' Corner Trust. The Trust is a new charity, established in 2007, which seeks to provide a stimulus to civil society both in the UK and in emerging democracies overseas by creating new opportunities for citizens to exchange ideas and opinions in open, face-to-face debate. With the success of Nottingham's speakers' corner they are now planning for similar projects in Lichfield
Lichfield is a cathedral city, civil parish and district in Staffordshire, England. One of eight civil parishes with city status in England, Lichfield is situated roughly north of Birmingham...

 and Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...



The Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

 coastal town of Worthing
Worthing is a large seaside town with borough status in West Sussex, within the historic County of Sussex, forming part of the Brighton/Worthing/Littlehampton conurbation. It is situated at the foot of the South Downs, west of Brighton, and east of the county town of Chichester...

 has had its own Speakers' Corner at Splash Point on the town's seafront since the Victorian era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

. A sign today marks the "stand for delivering sermons and public speeches", while another sign close by marks the site by the old Fish Market where the Salvation Army
Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian church known for its thrift stores and charity work. It is an international movement that currently works in over a hundred countries....

 has preached the Gospel since 1886. The Speakers' Corner fell into disuse in the late 20th century and is now being reinstated. As part of the Government's Sea Change programme, being run by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment was an executive non-departmental public body of the UK government, established in 1999. It was funded by both the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government.-Function:CABE was the...

, the area will benefit from a £500,000 grant to re-landscape the area around Splash Point and see a revival of the Speakers' Corner. Speakers' corner comprises a dais
Dais is any raised platform located either in or outside of a room or enclosure, often for dignified occupancy, as at the front of a lecture hall or sanctuary....

 accessible by steps and a ramp providing a platform from which speakers address the crowd or passers by. It is due for completion by October 2010.


There is a Speakers' Corner in the Domain in Sydney, established in 1878. Official outdoor 'free' speech first appeared in the hustings and hanging grounds of Hyde Park Sydney in 1874. Free speech in this form was banned following a serious riot between Catholics and Orangemen. However, following the formalisation of free speech in Speakers' Corner in London it was decided in 1878 that The Domain would be the place for free speech in Sydney. Other Speakers' Corners are found in King George Square and The Powerhouse in Brisbane
Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of...

. In Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, Speakers Corner was originally held in Birrarung Marr where the original site is still visible. This site has lost some popularity over the years and Speakers Corner (Now called "Speakers Forum") is currently held outside the State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria
The State Library of Victoria is the central library of the state of Victoria, Australia, located in Melbourne. It is on the block bounded by Swanston, La Trobe, Russell, and Little Lonsdale streets, in the northern centre of the central business district...

 on Sunday afternoon from 3pm.


Dedicated by the Earl Mountbatten
Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS , was a British statesman and naval officer, and an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh...

 on April 12, 1966, Speakers' Corner in Regina, Saskatchewan
Regina, Saskatchewan
Regina is the capital city of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The city is the second-largest in the province and a cultural and commercial centre for southern Saskatchewan. It is governed by Regina City Council. Regina is the cathedral city of the Roman Catholic and Romanian Orthodox...

 is located on the north shore of Wascana Lake
Wascana Centre
Wascana Centre is a 9.3 square kilometre park built around Wascana Lake in Regina, Saskatchewan. It brings together lands and buildings owned by the City of Regina, University of Regina, and Province of Saskatchewan, each of which is represented on the board of directors, and contains government,...

. It serves as a constant reminder of the notion of free speech and assembly and a tribute to Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

 people who have upheld that heritage. The two lanterns framing the south entrance to the main plaza formed part of the Cumberland Screen at the entrance to Speakers' Corner in London. The podia on the main plaza are from the exterior columns of the Old City Hall (1908–1965) and symbolize free speech in democracy at the municipal level of government. Six paper birch
Birch is a tree or shrub of the genus Betula , in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. The Betula genus contains 30–60 known taxa...

 trees were taken from Runnymede
Runnymede is a water-meadow alongside the River Thames in the English county of Berkshire, and just over west of central London. It is notable for its association with the sealing of Magna Carta, and as a consequence is the site of a collection of memorials...

 Meadow in Windsor Great Park
Windsor Great Park
Windsor Great Park is a large deer park of , to the south of the town of Windsor on the border of Berkshire and Surrey in England. The park was, for many centuries, the private hunting ground of Windsor Castle and dates primarily from the mid-13th century...

, near Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

. It was there that King John
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

 signed the Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 on June 15, 1215. The ten gas lamps surrounding the corner come from King Charles Street which runs from Whitehall to St. James Park, London, near the Houses of Parliament. They were erected in 1908 during the reign of Edward VII, whose royal cypher
Royal Cypher
In modern heraldry, a royal cypher is a monogram-like device of a country's reigning sovereign, typically consisting of the initials of the monarch's name and title, sometimes interwoven and often surmounted by a crown. In the case where such a cypher is used by an emperor or empress, it is called...

 E.R. VII appears on the base of each lamp.

Kitchener, Ontario
Kitchener, Ontario
The City of Kitchener is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada. It was the Town of Berlin from 1854 until 1912 and the City of Berlin from 1912 until 1916. The city had a population of 204,668 in the Canada 2006 Census...

 has a small area designated as Speakers' Corner on the northwest corner of King and Frederick Streets. It existed already since the mid 1980s.


The first Speakers' Square in Malaysia was established at the Padang Kota Lama (Esplanade) Penang
Penang is a state in Malaysia and the name of its constituent island, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca. It is bordered by Kedah in the north and east, and Perak in the south. Penang is the second smallest Malaysian state in area after Perlis, and the...

 on 4 May 2010. It is opened for the public to speak on Wednesday and Sunday (6.00pm to 10.00pm). The first speaker was Mr Tan Seng Hai who shared his views on preventing Ascot Sports Sdn. Bhd. from conducting betting activities in the Penang state:

"No religion in the world encourages betting and gambling and yet, the Federal Government has given out a betting license... Rampant illegal betting was not a good enough reason to legalise sports betting in the country. We have prostitution and people taking drugs. Does that mean we should legalise brothels and drug trafficking?"

Conditions for use of Speaker's Square
  • All speakers are prohibited from using loudspeakers, megaphone and any other public address system.
  • Anyone who uses the Speaker's Square to make speeches does so at his or her own risk.
  • The State Government and the Municipal Council of Penang Island will not be responsible for any prosecution or legal action by the Police or civil proceedings.


In the Netherlands, there is a permanently designated speakers' corner called the Spreeksteen in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

. Lawfully, every person has the freedom of speech as a matter of right. In practice, there is considerable ambiguity which gives mayors and other authorities the semi-lawful powers to prevent or distort free speech. The 'Spreeksteen' is open for free speech 24-hours a day, and was established to allow complete free speech. The 'Spreeksteen' has been located in the Oosterpark
Oosterpark (Amsterdam)
The Oosterpark in Amsterdam is the first large park laid out by the municipality of Amsterdam. The park is located in the Oost/Watergraafsmeer borough and forms a component of the Oosterpark area...

 in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 since May 5, 2005, and has been erected by a citizens action after the brutal murder of film-maker and columnist Theo van Gogh
Theo van Gogh (film director)
Theodoor "Theo" van Gogh was a Dutch film director, film producer, columnist, author and actor.Van Gogh worked with the Somali-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali to produce the film Submission, which criticized the treatment of women in Islam and aroused controversy among Muslims...

. Plans for bringing the Amsterdam Speakers' Corner online with a permanent camera and microphone are in a phase of installation. In the meantime the speakers are filmed with a hand-held camera.

The Spreeksteen was involved in controversy when they allowed Michiel Smit
Michiel Smit
Michiel Smit is a former Dutch politician and leader of Nieuw Rechts, a nationalist political party.-Political office:...

, an extreme rightist, to speak on October 1, 2006. Antifascists used noise to prevent Smit from being heard (as happens often when there is a public demonstration of the far right). René Danen, a former council member, threatened the Spreeksteen foundation with criminal prosecution if they let Smit speak again. Smit was scheduled to speak at the Spreeksteen again on November 5, 2006.


The Speakers' Corner in Singapore was opened on 1 September 2000, to allow Singapore citizens to speak freely. They are exempted from the need to obtain a police permit so long as they meet the terms and conditions of use.

The Speakers' Corner is located in Hong Lim Park, a popular venue for many election rallies and political speeches in the 50s and 60s. Hong Lim Park is centrally located, well-served by public transport and is sited in a high public density area.

In 2004, public exhibitions and performances were added to the list of exempted activities at the Speakers' Corner.

From 1 September 2008, Singapore citizens can also organise or participate in demonstrations at Speakers' Corner without having to obtain a police permit. With this latest change in policy to allow the venue to be used freely as an outdoor demonstration site, coupled with the liberalisation on the use of sound amplification and the extension of operating hours of the venue, the Speakers' Corner aims to address the genuine desire by some Singaporeans for lawful outdoor demonstrations and processions as a means of political expression.

Singapore citizens who wish to hold a speech, exhibition/performance or demonstration at the Speakers' Corner can register with the National Parks Board, which manages Hong Lim Park. Online registration is available at http://www.nparks.gov.sg. Terms and conditions are also stipulated on the website.

Trinidad and Tobago

Woodford Square in Port of Spain
Port of Spain
Port of Spain, also written as Port-of-Spain, is the capital of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the country's third-largest municipality, after San Fernando and Chaguanas. The city has a municipal population of 49,031 , a metropolitan population of 128,026 and a transient daily population...

, Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

, is also known as "The University of Woodford Square", so named by the first prime minister of Trinidad Eric Williams
Eric Williams
Eric Eustace Williams served as the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. He served from 1956 until his death in 1981. He was also a noted Caribbean historian, and is widely regarded as "The Father of The Nation."...

 who gave many speeches here. Another nickname, "People's Parliament", comes from the Black Power
Black Power
Black Power is a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies. It is used in the movement among people of Black African descent throughout the world, though primarily by African Americans in the United States...

 movement of the 1970s. Flanked by Trinidad's Parliament and Halls of Justice the Square still plays host to speeches of a highly topical and political nature.

In the southeast corner of the square, a blackboard lists the day's discussion as well as other important information. The speakers' topics are divided by interest and known as "classes".


An area was set up in Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

 in the 1930s, and quickly became known as Hyde Park, to enable freedom of speech and the airing of political views in Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. The area was shut down after student rioting and the lethal intervention of the army and it is not discussed openly today.

In 1955, Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram
Plaek Pibulsonggram
Field Marshal Plaek Pibunsongkhram , often known as Phibun Songkhram or simply Phibun in English, was Prime Minister and virtual military dictator of Thailand from 1938 to 1944 and 1948 to 1957.- Early years :...

 had visited the London as part of an international tour. He became impressed with the 'Speakers' Corner' in Hyde Park. Upon his return to Thailand a 'Hyde Park' space for free speech and assembly was instituted at the Phramane Grounds in Bangkok. The experiment was well received and effectively stimulated political debate. The experiment was not appreciated by the government though, and in February 1956 restrictions were imposed on the Phramane 'Hyde Park'. However, during this period the Hyde Park Movement Party had evolved. Despite this evolution, dozens of students were shot, beaten, hung, and mutilated by royalist
Red Gaurs
The Red Gaurs was a paramilitary anti-leftist organization active in Thailand during the 1970s, when a communist insurgency existed in both the northeast and far south. Many members were veterans of the Vietnam War or former mercenaries in Laos and thus fanatically anti-communist. They were...

 forces on the Phramane 'Hyde Park' in 1976.

Books and articles

  • A Summer in the Park - A Journal of Speakers' Corner (2004) by Tony Allen, foreword by Ken Campbell
    Ken Campbell (actor)
    Kenneth Victor Campbell was an English writer, actor, director and comedian known for his work in experimental theatre...

  • The Speakers (1964) by Heathcote Williams
    Heathcote Williams
    Heathcote Williams is an English poet, actor and award-winning playwright. He is also an intermittent painter, sculptor and long-time conjuror...

    . The book features William MacGuinness, Axel Ney Hoch, John Webster
    John Webster (orator)
    John Webster, aka Mohammed Jon Webster, or more simply just Webster , was a soap box orator and public speaker who principally plied his trade at Speakers' Corner near Marble Arch at Hyde Park, London and beneath the Moreton Bay Fig trees of The Domain, Sydney from the early 1950s till the late 1980s...

    , Jacobus van Dyn, Norman Schlund, Alfred Reynolds and other Speakers' Corner regulars from the 1960s
  • Hyde Park Orator. Autobiographical reminiscences (1933) by Bonar Thompson. With a portrait. Foreword by Sean O’Casey
  • Speakers' Corner - an anthology (1977) Edited by Jim Huggon. With a foreword by Philip Sansom
    Philip Sansom
    Philip Richard Sansom was an anarchist writer and activist.Sansom began working life as a commercial artist. During the Second World War he was a conscientious objector, and worked in farming for a while. From 1943 he worked on War Commentary, a wartime substitute for the anarchist paper Freedom...

  • But Mr Speaker, It would create Anarchy! (ca. 1975) by Jim Huggon
  • Bonar Thompson, the Old Days of Carnearney: An Examination of the Life and Times of Bonar Thompson, the Hyde Park Orator (1991) by R.H. Foy
  • Around the Marble Arch. Wit and Humour of the Hyde Park Orators (1939) by F W Batchelor
  • The history of soapbox oratory. Part one: prominent speakers of the Sydney Domain (1994) by Stephen Maxwell
  • Speakers' Corner: The Conceptualisation and Regulation of a Public Sphere (2000) by J M Roberts. Dissertation, University of Cardiff.
  • Roberts, John Michael. 2008. 'Expressive free speech, the state and the public sphere: a Bakhtinian-Deleuzian analysis of "public address" at Hyde Park’. Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest. 7:2 (September 2008), pp. 101–119.
  • From where I stand (1987) by Roy Sawh
  • A Saint in Hyde Park: Memories of Father Vincent McNabb, O. P. (1950) by Edward A Siderman
  • Wer andern eine Rede hält - Speakers Corner London (1981) by K H Wocker, photographs by J D Schmidt
  • Answering back. Donald Soper answers your questions (1953) by Donald Soper
  • The Domain Speaker. Humour, Politics, Satire, Revolution, Human Rights, Historical, Pictorial, Vicious Wit (1981) by Victor Zammit
  • Stilled Tongues: From Soapbox to Soundbite (1997) by Stephen Coleman
  • The future of ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world (2001) by Lawrence Lessig
  • Only in London': Speakers' Corner, Marble Arch. Past, Present, and Future (if any). An illustrated sourcebook (2010) by Reinhard Wentz
  • Speaker's Corner Teacher Guide. KS3 History and Citizenship (2011) [Produced by The Royal Parks(Agency)] 22p.

Media references

  • Bill Maher
    Bill Maher
    William "Bill" Maher, Jr. is an American stand-up comedian, television host, political commentator, author and actor. Before his current role as the host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher hosted a similar late-night talk show called Politically Incorrect originally on Comedy Central and...

     appeared at the Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, London
    Hyde Park, London
    Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in central London, United Kingdom, and one of the Royal Parks of London, famous for its Speakers' Corner.The park is divided in two by the Serpentine...

    , impersonating a Scientologist while filming his 2008 comedy/documentary film Religulous
    Religulous is a 2008 American comic documentary film written by and starring comedian Bill Maher and directed by Larry Charles. The title of the film is a portmanteau derived from the words "religion" and "ridiculous"; the documentary examines and mocks organized religion and religious...

  • BBC 3 produced a program with Tony Allen on heckling as a lost art for the election in 2005. It was based around teaching two people how to heckle at Speakers' Corner.
  • Episode 24 of Season 6 of the comedy TV series Married... with Children
    Married... with Children
    Married... with Children is an American surrealistic sitcom that aired for 11 seasons that featured a dysfunctional family living in Chicago, Illinois. The show, notable for being the first prime time television series to air on Fox, ran from April 5, 1987, to June 9, 1997. The series was created...

     had the Bundy family paying a visit to Speakers' Corner.
  • In Omen III: The Final Conflict
    Omen III: The Final Conflict
    Omen III: The Final Conflict is a 1981 British/American horror film directed by Graham Baker and the third installment in The Omen series...

    , the adult Damien passes through Speakers' Corner and is pointed out as Satan by the priest who speaks there.
  • Karl Pilkington
    Karl Pilkington
    Karl Pilkington is a British podcaster, author, television personality and former radio producer. He is best known for the Sky travel series, An Idiot Abroad, which was also presented in the United States on the Science Channel, in Canada on Discovery Channel and in Australia on One HD, and The...

     interviews a man who regularly attends Speakers' Corner, claiming to have discovered "the secret to eternal youth". The interview is an extra, featured on Ricky Gervais
    Ricky Gervais
    Ricky Dene Gervais is an English comedian, actor, director, radio presenter, producer, musician, and writer.Gervais achieved mainstream fame with his television series The Office and the subsequent series Extras, both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with friend and frequent collaborator...

    's DVD entitled FAME.
  • Speakers' Corner appears in one of the early issues of the Grant Morrison
    Grant Morrison
    Grant Morrison is a Scottish comic book writer, playwright and occultist. He is known for his nonlinear narratives and counter-cultural leanings, as well as his successful runs on titles like Animal Man, Doom Patrol, JLA, The Invisibles, New X-Men, Fantastic Four, All-Star Superman, and...

     comic book
    Comic book
    A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

     The Invisibles
    The Invisibles
    The Invisibles is a comic book series that was published by the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics from 1994 to 2000. It was created and scripted by Scottish writer Grant Morrison, and drawn by various artists throughout its publication....

     (later reprinted at the first Invisibles graphic novel, Say You Want A Revolution).
  • The BBC produced a program on the Park Police.
  • On 2 April 2007 Garry Cobain
    Garry Cobain
    Garry Cobain is a British electronic musician, and one half of The Future Sound of London...

     of The Future Sound of London
    The Future Sound of London
    The Future Sound of London is a prolific British electronic music band composed of Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans. The duo are often credited with pushing the boundaries of electronic music experimentation and of pioneering a new era of dance music...

     posted a video onto his YouTube account of him arguing with a lady at Speakers Corner in London about God entitled "the GOD WARS - An Argument I Had At Speaker's Corner". It is edited in a humorous way by him with the intro title "COMIC BELIEF presents..."
  • The lyrics of British rock group Dire Straits
    Dire Straits
    Dire Straits were a British rock band active from 1977 to 1995, composed of Mark Knopfler , his younger brother David Knopfler , John Illsley , and Pick Withers .Dire Straits' sound drew from a variety of musical influences, including jazz, folk, blues, and came closest...

    ' song "Industrial Disease
    Industrial Disease (song)
    "Industrial Disease" is a song by the British rock band Dire Straits and written by Mark Knopfler. It appeared on their 1982 album Love over Gold....

    " (from the Love Over Gold
    Love over Gold
    Love Over Gold is the fourth album by British rock band Dire Straits.- History :Due to its lengthy atmospheric instrumental passages, the album has been cited as the band's attempt at progressive rock....

     album) refer to Speakers' Corner: "I go down to Speakers' Corner, I'm thunderstruck; they got free speech, tourists, police in trucks. Two men say they're Jesus; one of them must be wrong. There's a protest singer, he's singing a protest song..."
  • Episode 3 season 1 BBC The Speaker
    The Speaker
    The Speaker is a 2009 British television series, broadcast on BBC Two. It is a talent show type series that aimed to find the best young speaker in the United Kingdom. The show is narrated by Jane Horrocks...

     contestants have to speak at Speakers' Corner to prove their public speaking skills.

External links

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