Michael Carolan

Michael Carolan, a retired head teacher, adored reading as a boy and went on to a Jesuit grammar school. His father was Irish Catholic and conservative “with a big and small ‘c’.” His mother had a working class Salvation Army background. The family fortunes were affected by anti-Catholic prejudice. Michael’s father, drawn to “a dynamic he had never experienced” in Bolton or the military, took him to Speakers’ Corner between the ages of seven and fourteen. Young Michael’s impression of Speakers’ Corner was of adults “misbehaving.” Against the conformist 1950s backdrop, it was funny and surprising to see them “declaiming like Romans.” He remembers three types of speaker: religious, political or “barmy.” His memories of Speakers’ Corner influenced his worldview: “You don’t harm anybody by standing up and saying what you wish to say in an environment where everybody is safe.”

Audio of Michael

“Misbehaving”

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“Never felt threatened”

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“Queen of Sheba”

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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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