On September 14, 1855, a crowd gathered in a part of London known as Marble Arch to protest a law called the Sunday Trading Bill. This trading bill, in essence, made any major business transactions (such as purchasing food or ale) prohibited on Sundays in the city. Since most lower class workers received their wages late Saturday afternoons, this bill affected them most adversely.
Nearly a century earlier, speeches had been delivered at the same location condemning the steady stream of public hangings at nearby Tyburn Scaffold. These speeches often were interspersed with the pathetic last words of the condemned. Perhaps due to these protests at Marble Arch, the executions around that time (1783) were moved to Newgate prison instead.
The now-fashionable corner of Hyde Park remained a site for orations by would-be reformers, suffragettes, tub-thumpers and others. The only restrictions on Speakers Corner pulpiteers were that they avoid slander, obscenities, incitement of riots and (perhaps above all) blasphemy.
The corner still hosts the occasional speech or two given during an afternoon, although gatherings are less organized and obviously much less effective in bringing about reform.
Many other countries have adopted their own "surrogate" Speakers Corners, perhaps most sucessfully Canada's "Speakers Corner", an electronic televised version adopted by CHUM Limited Broadcasting in 1990, first located on the corner of Queen Street West and John Street in Toronto.