Top 7 Unbelievable British Laws That Are Still In Place Today 

The British legal system is one of the oldest in the world and technology lawyers EM Law have found that there are still some archaic laws on the books which have not been updated to reflect modern life. Here are some of those laws:


1. Beating carpets on the street

Shaking or beating carpets and rugs in the street is an offence under section 43 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, which states: “Every person who shall beat or shake any carpet, rug or mat (other than a door-mat) before 8 am.

Carpets and rugs can ‌release dust and other particles into the air, which can be harmful to people with respiratory conditions.

2. Walks cows down in daylight

Cows are slow-moving animals and they can block traffic if they’re allowed to roam freely on the roads. In England, it is illegal to walk a cow down the street between the hours of 10 am and 7 pm, as stated in the Metropolitan Police Act of 1837.

People will need permission from the Police Commissioner if they wish to walk a cow down the street during those hours.

3. Ringing someone’s doorbell and then running away

Also known as “knock knock ginger” is an offence under the Metropolitan Police Act 189. The law was put in place to prevent people from causing annoyance or disturbance to others.

Playing this game/prank may seem like harmless fun, but it can be very disturbing for the person on the receiving end, especially if they’re elderly or vulnerable.

4. Gambling in a library

Gambling of any kind is prohibited in libraries, as stated in the Library Offences Act of 1898. This includes may include activities such as playing card games, betting on sports games, and using slot machines.

A library is a place of learning and research, so it’s important to maintain a quiet and respectful atmosphere. Gambling can be disruptive and distracting for other library users.

5. Carrying a plank along a public footpath

To prevent public nuisance, section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 makes it an offence to “carry any timber, plank, or bar of wood, or any pole, beam, or post along any footway.”

This law was enacted to prevent people from blocking footpaths with large and cumbersome objects. It can be very dangerous and inconvenient for pedestrians, especially if they have to walk on the road to get around the obstruction.

6. Play on icy streets

Sliding on icy streets can be dangerous for both the people involved and passers-by, as declared by section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839. While it might seem like a fun activity to take part in, it is also incredibly stupid and reckless to do so because it can cause some serious injuries.

7. Kill a swan

The Queen owns all the swans in open waters in the UK. According to the laws dating back to the 12th century, it is an offence to kill or injure a swan, with a maximum penalty of six months in prison and/or a fine of £5,000.

Swans are protected by law because of their cultural and historical significance. They are also a symbol of the British monarchy.


There are many outdated laws still in place in the UK. Some of these laws date back centuries and are no longer relevant, while others were put in place to prevent public nuisance or protect public safety.

However, some of these laws are still enforced and can lead to fines or even imprisonment if broken, so people should brush up their knowledge regarding these laws to prevent getting in trouble with the police and having to pay big fines.