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Britain's Strangest Laws

A swan swimming on a pond
In Great Britain, all swans are owned by the monarch and killing them is a crime | Image:

While most of the laws in the UK are put in place to keep people safe and protect against the destruction of property, there are a few rules that are slightly strange. You may have even broken the law without realising it! Here are some of the weirdest laws from the UK - past and present.

Pulling the rug out

It is illegal to shake out a rug in the street. It is, however, alright to beat or shake out a door mat; providing you do so before 8am. Never skip a queue Under Transport For London byelaws, it is illegal to jump the queue in a tube station ticket hall. Passengers must join from the back of the queue.

Even in a what?

Pregnant women are the only group of people who are legally allowed to urinate anywhere in public, including in a police officer's helmet - if they so desire ...

Acting fishy

Under The Salmon Act of 1986, it is illegal to handle a salmon in 'suspicious circumstances'. The Law Commission have never defined what constitutes as being 'suspicious' with a salmon.

Sobering news

It is illegal to be drunk in any licensed premises. According to the 1872 Licensing Act, landlords will face a penalty for every drunk person found on their premises.

From 1541, all English men between 17 and 60 were legally required to own a longbow & practice regularly. This was the case until the law was removed in 1960.

Money problems

The Currency and Banknotes Act (1928) makes it illegal to write, stamp, print, or draw on a bank note. It is also forbidden to destroy a coin.

King of Swans

Traditionally, the British monarch takes ownership of all wild, unmarked mute swans in open water”. This makes it illegal to kill one of these swans.

Horsing around

In a law that dates back to 1872, it is illegal to be intoxicated while you have a horse in your care. The same law also applies to cows.

Liverpudlian fish sellers

Public toplessness is illegal for women in Liverpool - except those who work in shops selling tropical fish. Those women are legally allowed to be topless.