Surreal law facts
The truth is always stranger than fiction.
The Alchemy ban
In 1404, in the 5th year of his reign as King of England, Henry IV (1367-1413), passed a law which prohibited alchemy which, as an impossible process, gives that statute the title of the only English law that has never been broken.
"It is ordained and established that none from henceforth shall use to multiply gold or silver nor use the craft of multiplication and if any the same do and be thereof attaint, that he shall incur the pain of felony."
The pain of felony meant capital punishment and forfeiture of all the felon's property to the Crown.
Book of murder bound in murderer's skin
William Corder shot and killed his girlfriend in Polstead, England in 1827, and the mother of their illegitimate child. The crime occurred on the grounds of a red barn.
A year later, the body was found and Corder arrested in London, where he had begun a new life, having married.
His murder trial was a sensation. Corder testified on his own behalf and after an implausible story, the jury unanimously found him guilty. His hanging in Suffolk 1828 drew a crowd of 7,000.
Judge Alexander sentenced him to be hung and to be "dissected and anatomised".
The dissection surgeon, George Creed, cut off and dried Corder's skin and used it to bind a copy of the trial transcript, entitled simply Trial Of Corder.
The book is still on display at the Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk (England).