Britain's oldest laws

10 of The Oldest (And Weirdest) Laws Still in Place in the UK

The United Kingdom is one of the oldest constituent group of nations in the world and has a history that spans back hundreds and thousands of years. Since the times of Norman Conquest through to the Civil War and introduction of the parliamentary system, the UK has undergone major changes.

It stands to reason that since the Kingdom’s inception, our laws and rules have changed drastically. New laws have been created, many old laws have been abolished, and entire new systems of government have come and gone. It is also a fact that there is a number of old laws that have simply never been addressed at all. To show you exactly what we mean, we have gathered a list of some old fashioned laws that are still in place in the UK – enjoy the comic relief  but remember not to break them!

1. Royal pets are strictly off limits 

Did you know that by law, it is actually an offence to allow your own pet to engage in mating rituals with a pet from the Royal family? (Without permission of course – you are more than welcome to send a letter to the Queen to see if her corgis are available!). The maximum punishment for breaching this law – execution!

2. In Scotland, if you need to go, you need to go

In Scotland you literally cannot deny someone entry to your property if they need the toilet! If someone knocks on your door and needs to use the WC, you must oblige. Next time you are in Edinburgh give this one a try and see what happens.

3. Know how to handle your salmon

Did you know that it is actually illegal to handle salmon in “suspicious circumstances”? This is actually part of the Salmon Act 1986 which was brought in to regulate salmon fishing. Whilst this might sound strange, it actually means you can’t handle salmon that have been illegally fished. 

4. Planks and pavements do not match

If you want to carry a plank on the pavement in the UK then unfortunately you are out of luck. Since 1939, it has actually been illegal to carry planks along pavements – if you see any builders breaking this important law then be sure to reprimand them immediately. 

5. Public urination 

If you need the loo urgently you can actually urinate in public. There is a couple of bizarre stipulations, however. Only males can do it, and they must only urinate on the rear wheels of their vehicle. Finally, their right hand must actually be placed on their vehicle too. Just as we thought things couldn’t get any weirder…

6. We have an offering your highness

Sturgeon and Whales are actually considered royal fish, and if you find one beached on the coast or elsewhere you must offer it to the reigning monarch. When such fish are taken they become the reigning monarch’s personal property. So, next time you try and take a whale home with you, think twice. 

7. Keep your washing on your own property

You may have seen washing lines hanging between buildings in other European countries. Have you noticed you don’t see it in the UK? There is a reason for that – you may not know, but it is illegal to hang your washing line across a street to another building.

8. Don’t place the reigning monarch upside-down 

We have all seen our glorious range of postage stamps bearing the Queen’s head but did you know there is an old law relating to how you use these stamps? If you place a postage stamp that bears the monarch’s head upside down on an envelope this is considered an act of treason.

9. MP’s leave your armour at home

 The Houses of Parliament are historical buildings that have witnessed some of the most important decisions in the United Kingdom. Throughout history this famous complex has been at the centre of the UK’s democracy. You will never see an MP wearing armour inside the building, however. Since 1313 there has been a law against it.

10. Treat your carpets and rugs with care

The next time you want to beat your rug, carpet or mat you must think twice. Incredibly, it is actually illegal to beat or shake these items after 8am in the morning. We have no idea why this law came about, or why there was a need for it to be instated in the first place, but it is certainly worth a laugh.

As you can see, our legal system is littered with amazing laws and acts that sound unbelievable in today’s modern world. You will never look at a sturgeon or salmon in the same way!

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