Surrey Heath Borough Council has described this row of houses in The Terrace on the RMA site as ” probably the single most important group of listed buildings in the Borough. ”
The nickname is supposed to have come from coach drivers on the busy London Road nearby who thought their design lacked something and was a little too much like a box with a lid.
They were built between 1811 and 1817 and the 13 double houses cost £42,258 which seems rather a lot of money (taking inflation into account) but the architect, Wyatt sent in a total bill for the whole site, of £370,000! Further fencing and another gatehouse were added along the London Road when an outbreak of cholera threatened to spread to the cadets. Since then more secure fencing has been added recently and the public is no long allowed any free access to the site.
The RMA has had to shut away from the town that grew up to serve it and it be easy to forget just how important it was nationally, from the beginning. In 1814, at the end of the Napoleonic War, and just two years after opening, the college was inspected by the Prince Regent who was accompanied by the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia. This is like a visit from the Queen, President Putin and a Angela Merkel in present day terms.
Just in front of Tea Caddy Row was the London Road toll booth with a gate across the road. It was not until the 1870s that it was removed and Surrey County council eventually took over responsibility for the maintenance of the road. Apparently, locals celebrated its removal with an ox roast, which gives you some idea of how popular road tolls were at the time.