The ten weirdest things you didn't know were illegal in the UK

Louis Dor
Thursday 08 September 2016 12:30
Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

You know that law which required every Englishman aged 17 to 60 to keep a longbow and practise on a regular basis?

It was repealed in 1960.

Not to worry, there are still some absolutely barmy laws in force.

Christopher Sargeant, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, was recently commissioned by Privilege Insurance to compile a top 10 list of the most obscure laws.

We've taken a few of his and some others to produce what we think are the most crazy laws in the country.

1. The 1313 Statute Forbidding Bearing of Armour

It means no one can take weapons into PMQs and go full 'SPARTAAAAA', which is probably a good thing.

Corbyn would probably trip and fall on his sword, anyway.

Just imagine it though, Angus Robertson wheeling a broadsword round his head at the dispatch box, bellowing demands for a 'yes' or 'no' answer on the single market.

It'd be something.

2. The Licensing Act of 1872

If you are drunk, you are not allowed to be in charge of a cow or a horse.

Which seems sensible, but really really specific.

The law also extends to forbidding being in charge of a loaded firearm, or a steam engine.

It was 1872. To break the steam engine-specific legislation would be impressive nowadays.

3. The 1839 Metropolitan Police Act

You know that game where you knock on a door and then run away?

Yeah, that's illegal.

Picture: Getty

No, Boris!

4. The 1839 Metropolitan Police Act

Yep, its the same one, but another provision also makes it an offence to carry any tub, wheels, ladders, cask, poles, hoops, or planks on a footway.

Oh, except:

for the purpose of loading or unloading any cart or carriage.

This was to ensure people could walk freely on streets without being blocked.

5. The 1986 Salmon Act

This law was intended to ban poaching, and made it illegal to handle salmon in suspicious circumstances.

Picture: ARMANDO FRANCA/AFP/Getty Images

6. The Prerogativa Regis of 1322

All whales and sturgeons found in the UK belong to the crown.

It's still being obeyed - in 2004 fisherman Robert Davies offered the Queen a 9lb sturgeon he caught off the Welsh coast.

Bit of a weird one from King Edward II.

7. The 1839 Metropolitan Police Act

Sorry but there are a couple more.

You also can't beat a carpet in the streets after 8am, “sing any profane, indecent, or obscene song or ballad", fly a kite, or fire a cannon or any firearm "of greater calibre than a common fowling-piece" within 300 yards of a dwelling.

That's the last time we visit the Met Police Act, we promise.

Bloody cannons.

8. The Town Police Clauses Act of 1847

You can't go sledding, ever.

At least according to the act which states there's a ban on making slides out of ice or snow.

9. The Greater London Authority Act 1999

This is the most British law we can think of.

If there is a sign present telling you to queue, or if a member of staff instructs you to, it's illegal to jump the queue under TfL byelaws.

If you're not welling up with national pride, deport yourself immediately.

10. The 1872 Licensing Act

The same law that dispossessed you of that druken steam engine rampage earlier is back to deprive you.

According to the same legislation, it's illegal to be drunk in licensed premises.

This literally means you cannot get drunk in a pub.

It also crops up in the 1839 Policing Act, in which landlords are forbidden from permitting drunkenness, and in the 2003 Licensing Act, which makes it an offence to sell alcohol to a drunk person.

More: 14 ridiculous things you probably didn't know were illegal

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