Laws are the backbone of our society and keep us from doing really crazy things that could harm others. Or at least, that’s the idea. While these laws may have had a purpose at one time (and one can only imagine what happened to cause their creation), many of these laws are baffling today. Here is a sampling of some of the stranger rules from across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
It is illegal to impersonate a Chelsea Pensioner. The Royal Hospital Chelsea is a retirement home for former British Army soldiers in Chelsea, London. There are two kinds of pensioners with the hospital, Out-Pensioners who receive their pension and live outside the hospital, and In-Pensioners, who surrender their pension and live at the hospital. In-Pensioners are encouraged to wear a blue uniform while in the hospital and a scarlet coat when traveling when they travel, as well as tricorne hats for ceremonial occasions. At one time, impersonating an In-Pensioner was punishable by death.
“The severest penalties will be suffered by any commoner who doth permit his animal to have carnal knowledge of a pet of the Royal house.” This law, enacted during George I’s reign, was meant to keep the royal pets pure and virtuous. So if you’re walking your dog through Hyde Park, make sure he stays away from the Corgis.
MPs may not wear armor in Parliament. From a statute enacted in the year 1313 to enable dueling. However, tradition holds that the width of the aisle running between the two side of benches in the House of Commons is 8 ft., 2in. long, supposedly the length of two swords from the pommel to the tip. Further, dying in Parliament is not permitted as it entitles a person to a state funeral.
In Chester, Welshman are banned from entering the city before sunrise and must leave before sunset. Your guess is as good as mine. Needless to say, Rob Brydon won’t be performing there anytime soon.
It is illegal to for a Public House owner to permit a person to be drunk on his premises. Violated daily in a great number of pubs. It’s typically believed that this law prevents being drunk in a pub, but the patron isn’t the one who is liable. A pub owner is also banned from serving someone who is visibly drunk.
Driving a cow while drunk is also illegal. The Licensing Act of 1872 made this act a crime punishable by imprisonment or a fine of £200. The statute also limited the closing time of pubs to midnight in towns and 11 P.M. in rural areas, which lead to a number of riots from working-class people.
In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door needing to use the toilet, you must let them enter.
It is legal to murder a Scotsman in York. Only within the ancient city walls and only when he is carrying a bow and arrows. However, on Sunday he can walk about the city with impunity.
It is treason to place a stamp depicting the monarch upside down. It’s also illegal to tear the stamp.
It is illegal to tell the tax man anything you don’t want him to know. It is, however, legal to tell him anything you don’t mind him knowing. I’d leave out anything that you wouldn’t your mother knowing, though.
A pregnant woman can relieve herself anywhere she wants, including a policeman’s helmet. Sometimes, when you gotta go, you really gotta go. To the police service’s credit, while researching, I came across a story on reddit of a police officer who let a young, drunk woman have a wee between his car and the curb in her moment of need, and guarded her while she did it.
And these are but the tip of the iceberg. If you enjoyed reading these, I encourage you to do some more research and learn why the monarch can claim beached whales or the historically relevant law against harboring a Catholic priest. I, for one, won’t be honking my horn while in a parked car anytime soon.
Have you heard of any strange UK laws? Let us know in the comments!