Living or Working in London? 7 London Laws Amazingly Still in Force

Central-London sign for those working in London

Many people often complain that living or working in London is 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.

Law against pig stys at a London property's front

2. Leave the armour at home

The Royal Prerogative 1279 forbade MPs working in London from wearing armour in Parliament. All very well back then, but hardly a problem today. At least, we don’t think so…

Law against wearing armour when working in London

3. No cannon firing

A surprisingly sensible law: it’s illegal to fire a cannon close to a dwelling house in London. This law was brought in during 1839, when cannon-firing was presumably a lot more common than it is for those living or working in London today. We suppose it was the antisocial behaviour of the Victorian day.

However, just in case residential cannon use makes a comeback, the law is still in force today.

Law against firing a cannon when working in London

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? Driving a gaggle of geese down Cheapside is also a legal entitlement. We’re not sure how often those living or working in London avail themselves of this right today.

Law in favour of herding sheep when working in London

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?

law against dying in the houses of parliament working in London

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.

a law against having sex on a motorcycle when working in London

7. No carpet shaking

At least not if you’re in the Metropolitan Police District. Shaking your doormat before 8am however is a legal entitlement.

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.

law against beating a carpet in London streets

Find out more about London’s history on our individual location pages including; Mayfair, Bank, Knightsbridge and Westminster.

Do any of these laws serve a purpose for those living or working in London in the 21st century? Or should they all be scrapped? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.