Leslie Griffiths

Leslie Griffiths spent the first ten years of his career as a Methodist minister in Haiti, returning to London in 1980. In the mid-1980s he became superintendent of the West London Mission where he met Donald Soper who was still very active, despite officially having retired. Leslie first went to Speakers’ Corner under the joking pretext that if Donald was “guilty of any heresy,” the superintendent should know about it. Leslie experienced Speakers’ Corner as a “marketplace for ideas” and he occasionally “stood in” for the big man on his platform. He saw open air oratory as an opportunity to communicate with as wide an audience as possible. He took Donald’s advice: “When you’re up there on the stand, look as if you’re enjoying it, because if you don’t, the British public will let you suffer on your own.” Leslie enjoyed “the cut and thrust” of Speakers’ Corner and wishes that church congregations would interject with questions or constructive heckles.

Audio of Leslie

“Marketplace of ideas”

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"Run through the street"

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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.

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© Chris Kennett

Exhibition

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

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© Philip Wolmuth

Radio show

Our radio show can be listened to here.

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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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