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Some Weird, Archaic UK Laws

It’s hard to believe that there are still laws in the UK that date back to medieval times, but it’s true! Here are some of the strangest and most archaic laws still in effect in the UK legal system today.

London police officers, circa 1880.
Credit: Wikipedia

Believe it or not, it is illegal to be drunk in a pub. Section 12 of the Licensing Act 1872 states: 'Every person found drunk... on any licensed premises, shall be liable to a penalty...' The same law makes it illegal to be drunk while 'in charge on any highway or other public place of any carriage, horse, cattle, or steam engine, or who is drunk when in possession of any loaded firearms.'

According to the Libraries Offences Act 1898, the act of gambling in a library is prohibited.

Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 states that you cannot carry a plank along a pavement in London unless you are loading or unloading it from a vehicle. The ban also extends to ladders, wheels, hoops, tubs, casks, placards and poles.

You are not allowed to fly a kite in a public place, according to the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, section 4.

It's illegal to enter Parliament while wearing a suit of armour. The Statute Forbidding Bearing of Armour dates back to 1313 and is technically still in force. The statute asserts the royal power to 'punish them which shall do contrary'. The law was enacted following a period of political turmoil under the reign of King Edward II.

The Public Health Act 1936 states that it is the legal responsibility for cab drivers to ask their passengers if they have the plague or smallpox.

It's illegal to walk cows down the street during the hours of daylight, as stated by the Metropolitan Streets Act 1867, section 7.

It's an offence to beat or shake your carpet or rug in a London street, according to the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, section 60.

According to section 55 of the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, it is illegal to fire a cannon within 300 yards of a house. The law states: 'No person, other than persons acting in obedience to lawful authority, shall discharge any cannon or other fire-arm of greater calibre than a common fowling-piece within three hundred yards of any dwelling house within the said district to the annoyance of any inhabitant thereof...' Whilst the number of people who owned working cannons in the 19th century was likely very small, today the figure will be even smaller.

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