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A George II Pass For The King’s Road, Chelsea, 1737
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A George II Pass For The King’s Road, Chelsea, 1737

Measurements: 36mm x 32mm

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Bronze. Obverse; crowned GR monogram. Reverse: inscribed, ‘THE KING’S PRIVATE ROADS’, dated 1737 and numbered 1554. Pierced for attachment to a key holder’s key ring.
 
The ‘King's Private Roads’ refers to the routes reserved for royal use, and particularly for the King’s Road, Chelsea linking St. James's Palace to Hampton Court that was used from the 1630s onwards. In the 1680s the Surveyor of Ways to the Crown accounted ‘For gravel laid betwixt Pimlico Gate and Chelsea for the amendment of his Majesty’s private way to Hampton Court. For scouring and cleansing several ditches in Hog Lane, betwixt Pimlico Gate and Bloody Bridge, and between Bloody Bridge and Chelsea, and in the way to Fulham.’ By 1711 the road was in such poor condition due to the wagons of the Chelsea market gardeners taking their produce to London that it was closed and the six gates that stood at intervals astride the road were locked for the next three years. By 1719, the road was in use again but the locals had difficulty acquiring passage and petitioned the Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury to recover ‘their immemorial custom, use and possession for we were never denied a passage till late’. This led to an edict ‘to permit the tenants of the lands adjoining to the King's Road, through Chelsea, to have free passage through the same, with their carts and horses, in the manner which they have been accustomed to.’ The six gatekeepers also petitioned for payment for three years work on the road and on 22 February 1722/3 it was agreed that they would be paid £5 per annum. The King's Road remained the King's Private Road until Christmas 1829 when it became a public road. The first passes were probably introduced in 1722/3 in order to recoup the £30 per annum paid to the six gatekeepers and possibly to pay for road repairs. The serial numbered passes were probably issued to local landlords and tenants for a modest fee. The King’s Road was George III's favourite route to Kew.
 
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