Chris Kennett

Chris Kennett, who first visited as a schoolboy in 1961, regularly cycled all the way from Harrow to Marble Arch and back. The exuberant personalities and exotic atmosphere gave him a buzz. Chris kept his Sunday visits secret from some of his school friends who would not understand Speakers’ Corner’s appeal. He took detailed notes and, back at home, performed the exchanges between speakers and hecklers for his brother’s entertainment. Later he invested in a camera and a tape recorder. Chris enjoyed listening to hecklers as much as speakers, especially Mary, who barged into meetings and menaced speakers with her crutches. Another favourite was “Holy Bob the Banner Man” who engaged in a call and response quasi-religious singing act with the crowd. After marrying and moving further away from London, Chris recently returned and found Speakers’ Corner had changed. A few of the old characters were still there, but the crowds were smaller, with fewer entertainers and hecklers.

Audio of Chris

“Holy Bob”

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“It is unique”

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“Mary and Lord Barker”

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Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London.

About the project

Sounds from the Park is a unique oral and visual history of Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park: the UK’s last great open air oratory site.

Read more about the project
© Chris Kennett

Exhibition

Our exhibition can be seen online here or read our booklet about Speakers' Corner.

See the exhibition
© Philip Wolmuth

Radio show

Our radio show can be listened to here.

Listen to the radio show
Young man talking at Speakers' Corner, 2013 © Sophie Polyviou

Education resources

History and Citizenship resources for Key Stage 3 and 4. Complete with a timeline of events at Speakers' Corner and other resources.

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