Windsor Courthouse | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Windsor Courthouse

Item details

Name of item: Windsor Courthouse
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Primary address: Court Street and Pitt Street, Windsor, NSW 2756
Local govt. area: Hawkesbury
Hectares (approx): 0.09
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Court Street and Pitt StreetWindsorHawkesbury  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Attorney General's DepartmentState Government 

Statement of significance:

Windsor Courthouse is a rare surviving Colonial Georgian public building that originally dates from the early nineteenth 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 courthouse buildings in Australia.

The courthouse 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 founded by Governor Macquarie.

The courthouse 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)
(SHR citation)
Date significance updated: 20 May 10
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.

Description

Designer/Maker: F Greenway, J Barnet (additions)
Builder/Maker: William Cox
Construction years: 1820-1821
Physical description: Windsor Courthouse is one of the earliest surviving courthouse buildings in Australia. Designed in the Colonial Georgian style, it uses an adapted Palladian form with a central double height courtroom flanked by single storey wings with an enclosing front verandah entrance. Classically inspired details include multi panelled windows with flat sandstone lintels over. (Schwager Brooks 1993)
Other accommodation: Sheriff's office, CLC office, Chamber, interview room, legal room, legal profession room, Magistrates room.
Construction: Windsor Courthouse is constructed of brick with sandstone details. The roof is clad in corrugated iron.
Exterior materials: bricks, sandstone, corrugated iron.
Interior materials: timber joinery
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good. (February 2007)
Interior (excluding courtroom) requires attention. Split joints in courtroom and Registry. Timber fence damaged (BGIS Annual Site Audit, 2017).
Date condition updated:20 May 10
Modifications and dates: Various maintenance over the 1840s, 50s. Alterations and additions in the 1870s, 80s and 90s. Restoration in 1961. (Schwager Brooks 1993)
Current use: Courthouse
Former use: Courthouse

History

Historical notes: Windsor Courthouse is the oldest courthouse in NSW, having been built in 1821 under instructions from Governor Macquarie. The first sitting of a Court of Quarter Sessions took place at Windsor in 1824 and in 1832 a Court of Petty Sessions was proclaimed.

The courthouse was designed by Civil Architect Francis Greenway. Mr William Cox was the successful tenderer for its construction. He was well-known as the builder of the road across the Blue Mountains and was also one of the community's first magistrates. The contract amount was £1800 and the courthouse was built by convict labour. The building was poorly constructed and underwent numerous repairs in the 1840s and 50s. These included re-shingling of the roof, constructing a new prisoner’s dock, re-laying the floor and ceiling of the verandah and repairing the ceiling and walls in the magistrate’s office.

Alterations designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet in the 1870s and in 1882 are not detailed, but at a cost of £367.10.0, were most likely substantial. In the 1880s, the roof was again re-shingled. In 1890, Barnet designed an addition for the northern side of the building.

In 1959-61 a restoration program valued at £24,471 was carried out. The program included the removal of cement render and replacement of damaged bricks with bricks salvaged from a demolished building of the same era. In 1966, a new toilet block was installed.

Windsor Courthouse has been used to host many social functions in the district, including public meetings, church services and election campaigns. Discussions for the formation of Windsor Municipal Council took place in the courthouse in 1858 and in 1875 residents gathered in the courthouse to listen to the addresses of the nominated candidates for Parliament.

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 -
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Civic centre-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages -
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Administration of justice-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities -
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences -
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups -

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Windsor Courthouse was the first purpose-built courthouse in Australia and has continued to function as a lower court in the NSW judicial system since its completion in 1822. (Graham Edds & Associates 2001)

Windsor Courthouse is a rare surviving Colonial Georgian public building that originally dates from the early nineteenth century. The courthouse 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 in SHR citation)
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The courthouse has strong historic associations with Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who commissioned its construction and with the first Colonial Architect of New South Wales, Francis Greenway, who was responsible for the design of the courthouse. The building is also associated with William Cox, who constrcuted the building and was a prominent public figure at the time.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Windsor Courthouse is a good example of the Colonial Georgian style adapted to suit the local climate. The building features verandahs that connect the two single-storey wings on either side of the central courtroom.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Windsor Courthouse has been connected, since 1822, with the life of the Windsor community, in its function for dispensing justice, as well as a venue for community activities. (Graham Edds & Associates 1997)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Windsor Courthouse is a rare surviving example of a Colonial Georgian public building and one of the few remaining examples of a public building designed by Colonial Architect Francis Greenway.
Integrity/Intactness: Mdoerately intact with a high level of integrity
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.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerDept. of Justice & Att. General S170 Register 2011    

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Sydney Gazette 25 Nov 1824
WrittenNSW Department of Commerce2007Condition Assessments GAP Analysis Court House Report: Windsor
WrittenSchwager Brooks and Partners Pty Ltd1993Department of Courts Administration: Preliminary Heritage and Conservation Register

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: State Government
Database number: 3080018


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