Keep any pig sty at the front of any house
Keeping them round the back in the manner of ‘The Good Life’ is fine.
Push three bath-chairs abreast in St James’s and Green Parks
Presumably single file is okay then…
Erect a washing line in the street
So you shouldn’t even air your clean linen in public.
Go door to door collecting a ‘penny for the Guy’
Unless, kids, you have the written permission of the local chief constable of police.
Gamble on public transport
Although we’ll bet you a tenner your bus is late.
After his tag became an unwelcome addition to cars all over Sutton, 18-year-old vandal Ben House was served with an ASBO in October 2005 forbidding him to carry marker pens, spray paint and shoe dye. The order also banned him from posting images of graffiti on the internet, or sending them via mobile phone or Royal Mail.
Have an affair in a hotel
According to an old City ordinance, it is against the law to check into a hotel in London under assumed names for the purpose of lovemaking, the fine for ‘falsifying a hotel registration’ to obtain a room for sex rather than sleeping being £20. It is also illegal to make love in trains, buses, parked cars, churchyards, churches or parks.
Impersonate a Chelsea Pensioner
Originally brought in to stop fraudsters claiming the army pensions that went with this title, this legendary law is still in force.
Wear a shocking hat
In 1797, a law was passed preventing people from wearing top hats, after London haberdasher John Hetherington unleashed his new creation on the capital. So revolutionary was the headwear that passers-by booed, ladies fainted and a small boy had his arm broken. Hetherington was apprehended for ‘appearing on the public highway wearing on his head a tall structure having a shining lustre and calculated to frighten timid people’. Obviously, top hats are no longer illegal, but it’s interesting to note that the gent was arrested for breach of the peace – a law that’s still very much in place. So if you did wander out wearing a hat capable of instigating public disorder, you could still be nicked.
Have a party without a licence
At least if it’s going to be bigger than you can fit in your house. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 did its best to scupper the London rave and illegal party scene, and we certainly couldn’t recommend that you regularly search Myspace or track down the promoters at legal parties to find out where the next illicit shindig is happening. That would be irresponsible of us. To read about more legal oddities, see ‘The Strange Laws of Old England’ by Nigel Cawthorne, published by Portrait.