Richmond and Windsor are two of Australia's oldest towns and were established in the 1790s as centres for the fertile agricultural and fruit growing region of the upper Hawkesbury River. Both towns have a rich colonial heritage and are home to some of the finest Georgian sandstone buildings in NSW. Once a thriving inland river port through which produce in and out of the area passed, Windsor has retained its olde worlde charm thanks to a collection of fascinating, well maintained 19th Century buildings.
A day trip by train from Sydney to Windsor is a recommended day out for those who enjoy stepping back in time. Though the main attraction is the old buildings, the town is far more friendly and laid back than the big city and is a great place to take a slow wander, stop for morning tea or lunch when you feel like it, then head back to the city by train when you are ready. Bring on the Richmond suburban branch line of the CityRail network, there are plenty of trains to and from Windsor on week days and weekends.
Many of the oldest surviving European buildings in Australia are located at Windsor, the oldest of which is the Macquarie Arms Inn (1815). It has a tunnel to the Hawkesbury River which was reputedly built for the purpose of smuggling. Other buildings include the master work of master colonial archirtect, Francis Grreenway - St Matthew's Anglican Church (1817 20), Rectory , and cemetery containing the grave of numerous first fleeter convicts; The Toll House, Bridge Street, circa 1835; Claremont Cottage, Claremont Crescent, circa 1822; Court House, Court Street, 1821; Fairfield House, Fairfield Avenue, circa 1831; Cope House Group, George Street, circa 1835 1880; Former Bell Inn, Little Church Street, circa 1841; Tebbutt's Observatory and House, Palmer Street, 1844 79; The Doctors House, 1 3 Thompson Square, 1830; Thompson Square Precinct and Bridge Street Buildings, including Hawkesbury Museum, circa 1830 61. A walking guide to Windsor's historic buildings is available from the town's museum in Thompsons Square.
Windsor has plenty of localities that are reportedly haunted by the ghosts of past residents. The old convict graveyard, the Macquarie Arms Hotel, The Doctors House in Thompsons Square, The Old Bakery Shop and the Cellar Tavern Restaurant are all said to be haunted. At the Macquarie Arms the ghost is believed to be that of Reg Grimes, a convict who worked at The Arms. The doctors house is said to be haunted by four ghosts. One of these, called Veronica, is a tall lady wearing a green dress with hair almost down to her knees. She is said to be a mischievous spirit in the main house, where little insignificant things go missing. There is also said to be a presence in what used to be the surgery. A ghost named Sarah is said to haunt in the cellar Restaurant. There is supposed to be another ghost in the bakery next door, that of a child, in a back room once used by convict children for labour, and abuse.
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Windsor Mall Sunday Market
Windsor Mall, George Street, Windsor NSW 2756, Australia
Trading: Every Sunday - 9am - 3:30pm
Type: Art & Craft, Baby & Kids/Children, General, Produce, Fashion, Handmade, *Wheel Chair Friendly
Phone: 0418 869 685
John Tebbutrt's Observatory
John Tebbutt Observatory is located on the Heritage listed Tebbutt Estate which dates back to 1843 and is situated on the Hawkesbury's Peninsula, Windsor. Family owned and operated our property offers a unique scape and history. Our observatory was operated in the late 1800's by an Astronomer named John Tebbutt, who discovered two comets form the property and was the first Australian born Astronomer.For his work in early Southern Sky observations he has been honoured internationally by having a crater on the moon named after him and nationally by being on the first Australian $100 note. In the grounds is Haddons House of Clocks, a museum containing a collection of over 800 clocks and memorabilia. Palmer Street, Windsor. Open Sun - Fri 10.00 am - 4.30 pm; Sat 12.00 noon - 4.30 pm. Night tours by arrangement. Phone (02) 4577 2485.
St Matthews' Anglican Church
Saint Matthew's Anglican Church, Windsor
St Matthew's Anglican Church has quite rightly been called one of the most beautiful buildings in Australia. Designed by Francis Greenway, under instruction from Governor Macquarie, the building is a landmark. The grave yard also makes for fascinating viewing, with graves of several people who came out with the First Fleet. A fine Georgian Church, constructed entirely by convict labour using sandstock bricks and sandstone. The dominant element is a sculptural square tower with octagonal cupola, axially arranged with a rectangular nave and semi circular apse. The interior contains much fine cedar joinery, including a coffered ceiling and gallery. Its siting is magnificent, on a hill above the town, and this reveals Greenway's sensitive appreciation of a building's relationship to the landscape.
The cemetery is older than the Church and contains many tombstones commemorating the early settlers of the Windsor District. The oldest tombstone (1810) was laid in memory of Andrew Thompson. The Rev. Samuel Marsden, principal Chaplain of the Colony, consecrated the Church on 8 December 1822 and the Hawkesbury settlers attended the service in large numbers. The porch was added to the southern side of the Church in 1857, temporarily obscuring Macquarie's large commemorative stone which was later discovered and placed on the outer wall of the porch.
St Matthew's Anglican Church Graveyard
The church's graveyard is the resting place of many earlier pioneer farmers of the Hawkesbury district. The oldest gravestone, dated 1810, is that of second fleet convict Andrew Thompson, who was Green Hills' (now Windsor) first JP and Magistrate. He arrived a 19 year old son of a Scottish clothing merchant aboard the Pitt in 1792. In time he developed his own business interests which are rumoured to have included an illicit still on Scotland Island on the Hawkesbury River. Gov. Macquarie composed the epitaph on his gravestone.
Edward Miles is one of a number of First Fleeters buried at St Matthews. Transported on the Scarborough, he married convict Susannah Smith in 1803. Farmers in the Windsor area, both were buried here. Fellow first fleeter James Freeman, a labourer, died a pauper at Windsor on 28 January 1 M830, aged 67. Freeman escaped a death sentence for stealing flour by agreeing to be the colony's first public hangman. His grave is unmarked. First fleeter John Best was buried on 9th March. 1839, age 82. His grave is also unmarked. After emancipation, Best became a farmer, recorded in 1828 as holding 470 acres with 30 cleared.
Henry Kable, transported for house theft, joined fellow businessman Simeon Lord and James Underwood in a successful sealing business. His marriage to Susannah Holmes on 10th February 1788 was one of the colony's first (five ceremonies were performed that day). During his life Kable was a nightwatchman, an hotelier and chief constable and ran the first stage coach in Australia from his pub, The Ramping Horse (opened 1798). He died on 16 March 1846 at Windsor. Edward Pugh, transported with the first fleet for st Uealing a goat, became a respectable farmer, living west of Parramatta. He died a pauper on 30th November 1837. Ann Forbes was transported on Prince of Wales at 15 years of age for stealing 10 yards of material. She married Thomas Huxley and settled near Windsor. Buried at St Matthews, she was the last of the first fleeters to die, age 80 years.
A number of second fleet convicts are also associated with the church and cemetery. Elizabeth Lee was sentenced to 7 years for stealing a grey cloak valued at sixpence. Age 20 on arrival on the Mary Anne in July 1791, she died on 11th June 1860 at Richmond, the wife of Thomas Heather. He was also a 2nd Fleeter, arriving on Neptune. Transported for highway robbery, he became a farmer and dealer of Windsor. Heather died in March 1827 and was buried at St Matthews. Mary Harrison, who was sentenced to 7 years transportation at the tender age of 16 years for stealing haberdashery from her employer, arrived on the same vessel. She partnered another convict, Edward Robinson, and had the first of 7 children at the Convict Settlement at Toongabbie in 1795. A stained glass window of St. Matthews Church is dedicated to two of their children who became well respected citizens of Windsor. UBD Map 86 Ref E 9
Green Hills Burial Ground
Though there are no marked graves, this burial ground holds the remains of many convicts who died in the early decades of the 19th century. It is believed to be the resting place of 'Bexley the Highwayman', a bushranger who was hanged for robbery on Pitt Town Road in 1884; Philip Cunningham, the Irish political prisoner who led the Vinegar Hill uprising at Castle Hill on 5th March 1804; first fleeter Edward Whitton and his wife Anne Slater. Location: Bridge Street, Windsor
History of Windsor
Windsor is the third-oldest place of British settlement on the Australian continent. Settlement at the location was first established about 1791, near the head of navigation on the Hawkesbury River (known as Deerubbin in Dharuk) and taking advantage of the fertile river flats for agriculture. The area was originally called Green Hills, but renamed Windsor (after Windsor in England). The town was officially proclaimed in a Government and General Order issued from Government House, Sydney, dated 15 December 1810, Governor Lachlan Macquarie having "marked out the district of Green Hills", which he "... called Windsor", after Windsor-on-the-Thames.
While in Windsor, Macquarie ordered the main institutions of organised settlement to be erected, such as a church, school-house, gaol and "commodious inn" (The Macquarie Arms). Of these new buildings, the most outstanding was Francis Greenway's Saint Matthew's Anglican Church, for which Macquarie himself chose the site. Samuel Marsden, principal chaplain of the colony, consecrated the church on 8 December 1822. In 1813 a report was given to Governor Macquarie from Earl Bathurst detailing a proposed invasion of the Hawkesbury River by France. This planned invasion that did not eventuate, targeted the Windsor granary in order to cut off supply to Sydney, showing the relative importance of this new settlement on a global scale.
The location of Windsor was chosen because of the agricultural potential of the area and the location was accessible by coastal shipping from Sydney. It was known as the "bread basket", ensuring the survival of the starving colony. The extensive agriculture caused major silting in the Hawkesbury River, by the 1890s the river had become so blocked with silt, ships could not travel up to Windsor from the coast. By then the railway, in 1864, and the road, in 1814, had been built.
Floods are a major concern in Windsor. Its proximity to the Hawkesbury River has resulted in numerous disastrous floods. A horseshoe on the outside wall of the Macquarie Arms pub marks the level the flood peaked at in 1867, when beaches along the Hawkesbury to Barrenjoey were littered with the debris from the town.