Ruth Eastwood

Ruth Eastwood was taught to question and to separate the truth of a statement from the identity of its utterer at an orthodox Jewish orphanage where she spent some of her childhood. She heckles in order to test the strength of arguments, not to destroy them. She says Speakers’ Corner was where “she learned to think.” Her father, also a thoughtful heckler, took her to Speakers’ Corner as a child in the 1940s. Ruth remembers Methodist orator Donald Soper and the “meshugganahs” or “crazies” from that time. Ruth is now a Christian and still visits Speakers’ Corner today with her husband Robin. Though Speakers’ Corner has had a limited effect on mainstream politics, she says: “The day that Speakers’ Corner goes down the tubes, England will be finished as a free society.” She regrets that today’s speakers are less willing to listen to others.

Audio of Ruth

“Like the British Kitemark”

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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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