Archive for May 17th, 2011

May 17, 2011

Old buildings are what Windsor does best!!

 One of the reasons I love living in the Hawkesbury so much is that just by popping down to the local shops to buy a paper, (or maybe a cupcake or two), you can almost literally bump into so much history. Last Sunday MD and I meandered around Windsor looking at the markets, (more about them next week), and enjoying the autumn sunshine…I couldn’t resist taking a few shots of these interesting buildings…

Spoiler alert…this might get a little factual so if you have an allergy to dates turn off now!

The town of Windsor itself became the third settlement in the colony in 1794 and is the first of what became known as the ‘Macquarie’ towns.It was originally named the picturesque ‘Green Hills’ but was changed to the slightly more boring ‘Windsor’ in 1810 by Governor Macquarie after the town in England.

The first post office in Windsor opened in 1828 and was housed in many different buildings, including The Doctor’s House – more on that in a minute. This post office was built in 1879, it is now used as office space…

I’m afraid I could only get this close and had to shoot over the fence because this house is lived in by some lucky person…

This building is the very cute home of the National Australia Bank…I’m not sure but I think it was originally built as a bank, does anyone know for sure? There is another bank building at the other end of the paved mall that is now the home of a restaurant called ‘Vault 146’, the wine is stored inside the original vault, you can still see the heavy steel doors, it’s really cool – I’ll do a post on it sometime soon…

If this building looks a tad familiar it’s because I used some of the detail around the beautiful door for the banner at the top of my blog! It’s known as ‘The Doctor’s House’ and was built in 1819 as a pub called ‘The Lord Nelson’. From 1876 onwards the house was occupied by a succession of doctors – the first being a Dr Fiaschi, hence the name!

It sits proudly on the best piece of real estate in Windsor, right down on the banks of the Hawkesbury river and practically next door to another famous pub – The Macquarie Arms, which was opened in 1815, so that probably explains why it didn’t work as (another) pub.

Segueing in nicely with the medical theme, this is the hospital. It was built, (as you can see from the dates over the door), in 1818 as a convict barracks, then was converted into a hospital for prisoners in 1823. In 1846 it was operated as a facility for the poor, aged and sick by the cutely named ‘Hawkesbury Benevolent Society’, then ran as a fee paying hospital from 1879. It was closed in 1996 when we got our spiffy new hospital literally across the road.

Now, I have some personal experience with this next one…the courthouse…and no, I wasn’t up before the beak…I sat in the public gallery for a day and watched as the cases were heard, (it was research for a novel I was writing: a sad tale of a lady who is convicted of a crime she wasn’t responsible for and the effects it has on her life as a ‘good’ wife and mother), anyway, it is a beautiful building and inside is just as it would have been back in the day…fascinating if you like that kind of thing!! I was sitting in the gallery trying hard to follow the legal arguments and court procedures and all I could think about was the history of the room itself… 

It was built in 1822 and designed by famous convict architect Francis Greenway, according to the sign out front it is the oldest purpose built courthouse in Australia. Inside in the public gallery is hung an 1820’s portrait of Governor Macquarie – apparently it was originally hung behind the magistrates chair but was damaged when during a rather rowdy public meeting it got hit by an egg! It was removed, restored and can now be seen safely resting inside the courtroom.

Anyone can tour inside the courtroom, of course as long as court is not is session!

Are you getting over saturated with dates yet? OK here’s just one more and I promise I’ll finish…

This is Tebbutt’s observatory, made famous by an astronomer named John Tebbutt who lived his whole life in the Hawkesbury. In 1861 he found ‘the great comet’ which was imaginatively named Comet Tebbutt 2 – I have no idea why it was 2, can any astronomers out there can tell me? His first observatory was built in 1863, but then demolished to make way for a bigger telescope in 1874…that’s the round building in the last picture! The square building was built in 1879.

And this is his house…I couldn’t get any closer because it’s lived in now…it’s called ‘Peninsular house’ and was built in 1845.

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