Crime and Punishment, Death, Free Speech, Justice, London, Tudor, Tudor London

Tyburn Gallows and the birth of free speech

For centuries Speakers corner in Hyde park has been the place where Londoners have stood on boxes and practised their right of free speech. Today some speakers talk complete nonsense to make the crowd laugh, others tell smutty jokes and some shout their political or religious views to the London crowd who boo or applaud.

It was on this site close to Marble Arch where the infamous Tyburn hanging tree once stood and it was at the foot of these gallows that the tradition of free speech began.

It was at Tyburn that condemned prisoners gave their last speech on the gallows before their death making the area an ideal place for public debate and discussion. From this hanging tree culture speakers corner evolved into what it is today and the right of free speech was born.

The first hanging here was in 1108 and the very last was in 1759. After this date the gallows were moved inside Newgate prison. The local people were very angry about the dismantling of the tree as hanging days had always been public holidays for the labouring classes which sometimes drew crowds of over 200,000 people.

Continue reading “Tyburn Gallows and the birth of free speech”