Speakers Corner in London

For over 150 years, Speaker's Corner has been one of London's most unique and eccentric attractions. On any given Sunday morning, anyone who has an opinion to air and anyone who will listen will gather at the point where Oxford Street and Hyde Park meet, in the shadows of Marble Arch and carry on an oral tradition that is becoming somewhat lost to a modern culture of email and online chat rooms.

Not strictly classed "entertainment", this bastion of British free public speech and free assembly can prove one of the most absorbingly unique, theatrical activities the city has to offer. Located on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate, opposite Marble Arch tube, Speakers' Corner is the spiritual home of the British democratic tradition of soapbox oratory.

Every Sunday since the right of free assembly was recognised in 1872 in the Royal Parks and Garden's Act, people from all walks of life have gathered to listen to speeches about anything and everything... and to heckle. From Socialism to Sunday trading, sausages to space invaders, the opinions aired here are varied and fascinating.

While Karl Marx, Lenin, George Orwell, and William Morris have all used this spot to express their ideals and beliefs, your average speaker isn't quite as high profile. The coherence of the speakers also varies greatly, but as a whole it makes for great street theatre. Come and watch, come and heckle, or, if you have a burning desire to share your opinions with the world, come and spout - take something to stand on and start pontificating. Although Sunday morning is the best time to visit, speakers can now be found on the corner throughout the week.

A visit to Speaker's Corner will offer you a glimpse of London's real past, where Londoners engage in earnest, open conversations that can quickly become loud and contentious debates. There's no parliamentary procedure here, it's freewheeling verbal contact and if you have a mind to, you're free to take part. Tourists can often be seen entering into heated discussion with locals and other visitors alike. Speakers require no qualification or invitation. It is as open a forum as you are likely to see anywhere in the world, a classless forum where one can really see grassroots democracy at work.



 
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