Friday, 3 June 2005

Window Tax and Other Weird London Laws

  • In 1766 The House and Window Duties Act was passed by Parliament. This meant that every house in England and Scotland had to pay a certain amount of tax per window. (In Scotland though, houses with less than five windows weren't taxed). The more windows you had, the higher the tax, so many people decided to have many of them bricked up. This can still be seen on the walls of old town-houses in Central London.
  • If you struck someone in 1543 and their blood was shed your hand had to be chopped off.
  • Charles II decreed that six ravens ought to be kept in the Tower of London at all times. Legend has it that if the ravens leave the Tower the Kingdom will fall. To this day there is such a person as the Raven Master, and his chief responsibility is to clip the wings of the ravens so tehy can't fly away.
  • Every October, the solicitor to the City of London pays rent for land that the Corporation of London rented in Shropshire. The problem is, this was about 700 years ago and this land is not relevant today. To solve this problem, the ritualists of the City decided that rent ought to be paid in the form of a blunt billhook and a very sharp axe. Then, the said solicitor proceeds to cut through some wood with the billhook. However, he is supposed to fail with this task so that he can then cut through the wood with the aforementioned axe.

6 comments:

HCaldwell said...

Things that make you go, "hmmm?".

Alterior said...

Yes, things that make you wonder whether these law-makers were sober or not...

Daldianus said...

I especially like the raven legend, hehe.

As for silly laws, check out: http://www.dumblaws.com/

......

Anonymous said...

what does chopping wood have to do with paying tax?

Nice blog by the way.

Alterior said...

I have no idea. These sort of things rarely have any logic in them. :-)

Kate said...

The window tax actually had logic, being that larger houses had more windows and thus owed more taxes - it was a more efficient way of taxing than measuring square footage. Bricking up the windows was a clever way of avoiding this tax. Even if your house was very large, you could brick up windows and pay the same tax as a small house. Personally, if I lived in one of these beautiful houses with the bricked up windows today, I'd certainly knock the bricks out and make them windows again!