Windsor Court House | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Windsor Court House

Item details

Name of item: Windsor Court House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Location: Lat: 150.82609112 Long: -33.60545739
Primary address: 34 Court Street, Windsor, NSW 2756
Parish: St Matthew
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Hawkesbury
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
34 Court StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandPrimary Address
North StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandAlternate Address
Pitt StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandAlternate Address

Statement of significance:

The Windsor Court House, a rare surviving Colonial Georgian public building that originally dates from the early 19th century. The building has a fine and impressive form which uses an adapted Palladian plan to suit the Australian climate. It is of considerable historical, social and aesthetic significance, as one of the earliest surviving Court House buildings in Australia.
The Court House now [1967] ranks as Greenway's best preserved building. The Building and Maintenance Branch of the NSW Department of Public Works carried out restoration work in 1961 to remove unsympathetic rendering of the external brickwork which was an attempt to reduce the problem of damp. The building now stands in its original and unspoiled form in Windsor, the most prosperous and successful of the towns then being founded by Governor Macquarie.
The court house was insisted upon by Governor Macquarie, designed by Francis Greenway (himself originally a convict) and built by William Cox using convict labour. It is a combination and the result of all the forces directly at play during the Australia's early development.
(Ellis, 1973; Pike, 1966)
Date significance updated: 01 Nov 00
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: F Greenway, J Barnet
Builder/Maker: William Cox
Construction years: 1821-1822
Physical description: The Windsor Court House is one of the earliest surviving Court House buildings in Australia. Designed in the Colonial Georgian style, it uses an adapted Palladian form with an enclosing front verandah entrance, a climatic adaptation. Classically inspired details include multipanelled windows with flat sandstone lintels over.
Other accommodation includes Sheriff's Office, CLC Office, Chamber, interview room, Legal room, Legal profession room, Magistrate's room.
The Windsor Court House is constructed in face brick, with a sandstone base course and window headers. The roofs are clad in corrugated iron. The verandah is supported on timber posts. Interiors feature intact timber joinery and furniture.
Architectural Style: Old Colonial Georgian
Exterior: Brick, Sandstone, Corrugated iron
Interior: Timber Joinery
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good Condition
Date condition updated:01 Nov 00
Modifications and dates: Repairs carried out in the 1840s and 50s included the re-shingling of the roof and other building works. Alterations made by Barnet in 1870s and 1882. Last recorded additions in 1890. In 1961 restoration, renovation and alterations were made plus new toilet accommodation.
Current use: Court House
Former use: Court House


Historical notes: The Windsor Court House was designed by the Colonial Architect Francis Greenway in 1821, in response to Governor Macquarie's request. It was intended to replace an original timber court house, and despite economic restrictions, Governor Macquarie had no intention to settle for a weatherboard structure. Instead he called upon Greenway to submit designs for a small but substantial brick building.
The contract for its construction was awarded to William Cox in October of 1821 for the sum of 1800 pounds, on the condition that the building be completed within fifteen months of the award of the contract. The court house was completed within the time specified using convict labour.
Historical Period: 1801 - 1825, 1875 - 1900
(Bridges, 1986)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Convict-Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities Working for the Crown-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor Lachlan Macquarie, 1810-1821-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Francis Greenway, emancipist architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Windsor was the most prosperous and successful of the towns founded by Governor Macquarie.
The Windsor Court House was commissioned in 1821 by Governor Macquarie to replace its, by then, dilapidated timber predecessor.
In 1821 William Cox signed the contract, and agreed to build the court house within fifteen months from October of that year of a sum of 1,800 pounds under Greenway's supervision and using convict labour.
In addition to its association with its designer, Francis Greenway, and its builder, William Cox, the court house represents the first steps in the prosperous growth and development of Windsor and the Hawkesbury region, and the efforts of Governor Macquarie to obtain the establishment of a modest but substantial brick court house despite the pressure to reduce government spending.
(Bridges, 1986; Baker, 1967)
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Court House was commissioned by Governor Macquarie in 1821.
It was designed by Francis Greenway, Colonial Architect, and appointed Civil Architect in 1816.
Greenway also designed such buildings as the Hyde Park Barracks, Macquarie Lighthouse, the Women's Factory at Parramatta, St Matthew's Church in Windsor, St Luke's Church in Liverpool, and St James's Church and the Supreme Court in King Street Sydney.
(Pike, Ed., 1966)

The Court House is also associated with William Cox, its builder, who was an energetic and self improving colonist and contributed much to the development of the settlement. He arrived in 1800 as an officer of the New South Wales Corps, took up farming and in 1810 was appointed a magistrate in the Hawkesbury district. He employed about 50 convicts in agricultural and manufacturing activities on his property near Windsor. He also undertook building contracts for the government and in 1814 supervised the construction of the first road across the Blue Mountains.
(Bridges, 1986)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Windsor Court House is built in a simple Georgian style. The main room, the Court Room, is flanked front and back by stone flagged verandahs which form an essential part of the building's plain rectangular structure, and provide access to the ancillary rooms.
The simplicity of the design is enhanced by the quality of the materials used - hand made sandstock bricks on a sandstone foundation. The windows and doorways have incised stone lintels and stone sills and recessed panels in the brickwork and the stone foundation.
The interior is also simple with white walls and cedar panelling. The panelling behind the Magistrate's chair is embellished by a gilded coat of arms. The room is illuminated by light through high clerestory windows.
Despite its simplicity in design, the most significant feature of this building is the adaptation by Greenway of his architectural skills and principles to suit the demands of an Australian climate.
Greenway realised that architectural conditions in Australia, such as climate, building materials, and the lack of skilled professional labour and craftsmanship, were different from those in England and so he rearranged his design and thinking accordingly.
With the exception of his Gothic designs, there is little or no decoration or ornament added to Greenway's designs. Everything in the design is a necessary part of the building.

(Ellis, 1973; Baker, 1967)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
First commissioned in 1821 and completed within fifteen months, the Windsor Court House was built during politically and economically trying times (with pressure from England to reduce government spending) and amidst the turbulence of colonisation, the establishment of new settlements, a lack of skilled labour and other resources, and the unfamiliarity of a new and rather harsh climate.
As such, the Windsor Court House is a symbol of the growth and successful development of Windsor as the most prosperous town established by Governor Macquarie and of the social, cultural and political forces of the early 1800's.
Integrity/Intactness: The Windsor Court House now (1967) remains as the best preserved examples of Greenway's work. Following the removal by The Department of Public Works in 1961 of the previously applied cement rendering to the exterior of the building, the court house now stands in its original form, unspoiled both internally and externally by unsympathetic alterations.
(Baker, 1967)
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanHawkesbury LEP 2012I0080421 Sep 12   
Local Environmental Plan - Lapsed 198918 Dec 89   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Windsor Heritage Walk
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Windsor Heritage Walk

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1741534
File number: H99/00211/1

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