Strange English Laws

Early this morning I enjoyed reading about Weird American Laws in a post by The Old Geezer. Did you know it's against the law to sleep in your 'fridge in Pennsylvania? Or that birds have the right of way on all highways in Utah?

Of course every country has its collection of strange laws that it's government hasn't got round to repealing or that are forgotten but remain on the statute books. This is certainly true in England, where I live. Below are some examples of strange English laws still on the statute books. If you know that any of these are no longer true, please correct me.
  • It is illegal to fly a kite within the London Metropolitan Police District. (Town Police Clauses Act 1847). This is because the Victorians feared spread of disease.
  • Taxi drivers are supposed to ask if you are suffering from 'the plague'. If you are he/she can charge you the cost of disinfecting the cab.
  • I think it is illegal to keep a pigsty in front of your London home. Londoners, correct me if I'm wrong!
  • It is legal to shoot a Scotsman with a bow and arrow, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow within the city walls of York (England) and not on a Sunday. (Medieval law - fear of Scottish invasion in north of England.)
  • It is legal to shoot a Welsh person, but only in Hereford (England) and only on a Sunday, with a longbow, in the Cathedral Close. (Medieval law - fear of Welsh invasion.)
  • I think it is still illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day anywhere in England. However you are unlikely to be prosecuted if you do!
  • It is legal for a man to urinate in public, but only on the rear wheel of his motor vehicle while his right hand is on the vehicle. This could be useful next time you're stuck for several hours in stationary traffic on a motorway - but not if you're female (unless you're pregnant - see below).
  • On the other hand a pregnant woman can relieve herself anywhere in the UK including in a policeman's helmet! ( I wish I'd known that during my pregnancies!)
  • What's the legal thing to do with a dead whale washed up on a British coast? Welll, don't forget that legally the whale's head belongs to the King (we don't have one at the moment) and the tail belongs to the Queen "in order to furnish the Queen's wardrobe" - a polite way of saying she might need the flexible tailbones for her corsets.
  • It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament, Westminster. You will be past caring about prosecution though!
If you want to check out every law made and revised in the UK since 1267 you can do it through an official website but you've probably got something better to do.

Today's a public holiday in England. (It's legal for banks to take a holiday.) I'm off to mow the lawn now the sun's dried out the grass, then out for a walk and pub lunch with nearest and dearest.


  1. Wow! You laws are just as weird as ours here in the USA. :-)

  2. Thanks Ron for commenting. I think we probably have more weird laws and bye-laws, if only because of a longer history of law-making than you have in the USA.


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