Six obscure rules that are still law in the UK

Government lawyers are preparing to change archaic rules which made it illegal to ‘impede escape from a shipwreck’ and to make ‘assaults with intent to obstruct the sale of grain’ in the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Perhaps they should look over these obscure legal oddities, too…

1. Armour in parliament

Despite often-heated debates, according to the 1313 Statute forbidding Bearing of Armour, MPs are not allowed to wear a suit of armour in Parliament.

2. Planks of wood

Under the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, it is illegal to carry a plank along a pavement. The Act also forbids flying kites, playing annoying games, and sliding on snow in the street. Killjoys!

3. Drinking with animals

Under the Licensing Act 1872, it is illegal to be drunk in charge of a horse. This Act also bans being drunk in charge of a carriage, cow or steam engine.

4. Pigsties on the pavement

Most neighbours will be happy that, according to the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, it is an offence to keep a pigsty in front of your house or to slaughter cattle in the street.

5. Carpet beating

Under the same Act, it is illegal to beat or shake any carpet or rug in any street. That said, the beating or shaking of a doormat is allowed before 8am.

6. Drinking in pubs

Worryingly for many, it is illegal to be drunk on licensed premises. The Licensing Act 1872 states: “Every person found drunk… on any licensed premises, shall be liable to a penalty.”

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