Outsiders often complain that London’s like a completely different world – a country within a country. Judging by these strange laws – all still in place – they might be right.
1. What – a pigsty?
Thinking of having your very own urban small-holding? Then make sure it’s to the rear of your property. It’s still illegal for Londoners to have a pigsty at the front of their house – not that most even have the space.
2. Leave the armour at home
The Royal Prerogative 1279 forbade MPs from wearing armour in Parliament. All very well back then, but hardly a problem today. At least, we don’t think so…
3. No cannon firing
A surprisingly sensible law: it’s illegal to fire a cannon close to a dwelling house in London. This was law was brought in in 1839, when cannon-firing was presumably a lot more common than it is today – antisocial behaviour Victorian style.
However, just in case residential cannon use makes a comeback, the law is still in force today.
4. The freedom to herd sheep
Granted the Freedom of the City of London? Make sure you make the most of the legal right to herd a flock of sheep over London Bridge.
No sheep? You’re also entitled to drive a gaggle of geese down Cheapside. We’re not sure how often City Freemen avail themselves of this right today.
5. Sorry sir, you can’t die here
Back to the Houses of Parliament and possibly one of the most pointless and unenforceable laws out there. In fact, it was voted the most stupid UK law in a 2007 poll.
Dying in the Houses of Parliament would entitle you to a state funeral. To get around this highly inconvenient situation, a law was passed making it illegal to die there. Problem solved?
6. Not on a motorcycle
The surging popularity of motorcycles following WWII made it necessary to pass a law making it illegal to have sex on a motorcycle – but just in London. Apparently, other cities didn’t have this problem – or took a more lenient approach.
7. No carpet shaking
At least not if you’re in the Metropolitan Police District. However, if it’s before 8am you’re legally entitled to shake your doormat.
This law was brought in during the mid-nineteenth century, when servants would take carpets outdoors and beat them to get rid of the dust and dirt. Thanks to the popularity of hoovers today, the problem has ceased to exist and no one has felt the need to repeal the law.
Do any of these laws serve a purpose in 21st century London? Or should they all be scrapped?