Macquarie Arms Hotel | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Macquarie Arms Hotel

Item details

Name of item: Macquarie Arms Hotel
Other name/s: Royal Hotel
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Hotel
Location: Lat: -33.6048427435 Long: 150.8228154840
Primary address: Thompson Square, Windsor, NSW 2756
Parish: St Matthew
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Hawkesbury
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Deerubbin
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP864088
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Thompson SquareWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandPrimary Address
99 George StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandAlternate Address
CNR Thompson SqWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandDuplicate Address
CNR George StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandDuplicate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Tankstream Capital Pty LtdPrivate 

Statement of significance:

Opened in 1815 and constructed by emancipist Richard Fitzgerald in response to specific directions from Governor Macquarie, the Macquarie Arms Hotel is of exceptional significance as the most sophisticated and most intact major commercial building dating to the pre-1820 colonial period of Australia's history. Playing a pivotal role in Macquarie's town plan for Windsor, the Macquarie Arms Hotel is the most substantial building to form part of Thompson Square, the best Georgian town square on mainland Australia. The building contains numerous rare and aesthetically superior elements, and continues to be widely recognised for its importance to the understanding of settlement, urban design, and architecture during the colonial period, while its historic associations carry strong cultural messages of the period's society and government. It has been long established by art and architectural historians, and has a prominent place in the contemporary social life of Windsor.
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.


Physical description: The hotel is a building of generous proportions, with sandstock brick walls, stuccoed over and painted white. It has two large Georgian doorways with semi-circular traceried fanlights and sidelights, but the glass in the one facing George Street has unfortunately been painted over. The one opening onto Thompson Square can still be seen in its original state. The hotel retains its well designed cedar joinery, its cedar circular staircase, its extensive stone flagged cellars, its turned wooden verandah columns, and its stone flagging.

(Baker, 1967)
Modifications and dates: The early character of the architecture of the building was somewhat belied around the 1930s by the addition of box-like protuberances to the corners of the building. The upstairs verandah has also been added and some upstairs windows replaced by French doors. Most of the attic windows in the roof were also added then.
Despite the alterations, the building still possesses a great deal of its former atmosphere.
(Baker, 1967)
Further information: This Hotel is located in the Thompson Square Conservation Area.
Current use: Hotel
Former use: Hotel


The lower Hawkesbury was home to the Dharug people. The proximity to the Nepean River and South Creek qualifies it as a key area for food resources for indigenous groups (Proudfoot, 1987).
The Dharug and Darkinjung people called the river Deerubbin and it was a vital source of food and transport (Nichols, 2010).

Governor Arthur Phillip explored the local area in search of suitable agricultural land in 1789 and discovered and named the Hawkesbury River after Baron Hawkesbury. This region played a significant role in the early development of the colony with European settlers established here by 1794. Situated on fertile floodplains and well known for its abundant agriculture, Green Hills (as it was originally called) supported the colony through desperate times. However, frequent flooding meant that the farmers along the riverbanks were often ruined.

1794: The study area covering allotments at 23 through to 39 North Street, Windsor, is located on land first alienated for European purposes in a grant made by Francis Grose of thirty acres to Samuel Wilcox, who named it Wilcox Farm. It is likely that land clearance and agricultural activities as well as some building works took place during this period and during the subsequent of occupation;

early 19th century: Former Wilcox Farm was incorporated into a larger holding of 1500 acres known as Peninsula Farm.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie replaced Governor Bligh, taking up duty on 1/1/1810. Under his influence the colony propsered. His vision was for a free community, working in conjunction with the penal colony. He implemented an unrivalled public works program, completing 265 public buildings, establishing new public amenities and improving existing services such as roads. Under his leadership Hawkesbury district thrived. He visited the district on his first tour and recorded in his journal on 6/12/1810: 'After dinner I chrestened the new townships...I gave the name of Windsor to the town intended to be erected in the district of the Green Hills...the township in the Richmond district I have named Richmond...' the district reminded Macquarie of those towns in England, whilst Castlereagh, Pitt Town and Wilberforce were named after English statesmen. These are often referred to as Macquarie's Five Towns. Their localities, chiefly Windsor and Richmond, became more permanent with streets, town square and public buildings.

Macquarie also appointed local men in positions of authority. In 1810 a group of settlers sent a letter to him congratulating him on his leadership and improvements. It was published in the Sydney Gazette with his reply. He was 'much pleased with the sentiments' of the letter and assured them that the Haweksbury would 'always be an object of the greatest interest' to him (Nichols, 2010).

In marking out the towns of Windsor and Richmond in 1810, Governor Macquarie was acting on instructions from London. All of the Governors who held office between 1789 and 1822, from Phillip to Brisbane, recieved the same Letter of Instruction regarding the disposal of the 'waste lands of the Crown' that Britain claimed as her own. This included directives for the formation of towns and thus the extension of British civilisation to its Antipodean outpost (Proudfoot 1987, 7-9).

On July 15th, 1815, the Sydney Gazette carried the following public notice:

"A large and commodious House having been some time since erected, and lately completed, at a very considerable expense, in the Town of Windsor, for an Inn; and a suitable person having been engaged by the Proprietor for keeping the same, Notice is hereby given, that the said Inn, called "The Macquarie Arms", and kept by Thomas Ranson, who formerly was an Innkeeper in England, will be opened for the accommodation of the Public on Monday the 31st of this present Month of July".

The hotel was opened two weeks later by Governor Macquarie.

The hotel, also known as the Royal Hotel, was envisioned by Governor Macquarie following his tour of the district in 1811. Governor Macquarie wrote about the event in his diary:-

"I gave Mr. Fitzgerald a large allotment in the square on the express condition of his building immediately thereon a handsome commodious inn of brick or stone and to be at least two stories high..".

Richard Fitzgerald, who duly built this handsome commodious inn on the allotment given him by Macquarie, had arrived in New South Wales in 1791 as a convict, as had Andrew Thompson whose name is remembered in Thompson Square. In 1800 Governor Hunter made Fitzgerald superintendent of Agriculture in Toongabbie. He had proved himself a good farmer in the cultivation of his 1794 grant of 190 acres.
Richard Fitzgerald and his family lived in a house along side the Macquarie Arms Hotel in George Street Windsor.

The hotel was occupied in the late 1830s by army officers stationed at Windsor and it became known as the Mess House and referred to as such in Armstrong's map of the town (1842).

From 1872 to 1900 it was once again run as a hotel by the Bushell family. It continues to be run as a hotel to the present day. Its central position in Windsor and its early date and interesting associations make The Macquarie Arms a colonial building of some importance (Baker, 1967)

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 Demonstrating emancipist's entrepreneurial activities-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Innkeeping-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Aaron Muron Bolot, architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Aaron Muron Bolot, architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Macquarie Arms Hotel is closely associated with a number of significant social and political figures in the Hawkesbury District during the period of its early development.
The building of the hotel was an express condition by Governor Macquarie of his grant of a large allotment of land to Richard Fitzgerald. The hotel was built to specific requirements made by Governor Macquarie that the inn be handsome, commodious, of brick or stone and to be at least two stories high.

The allotment of land - and subsequently the situation of the hotel - was in Thompson Square, named by Governor Macquarie in honour of Andrew Thompson Esqr, Justice of the Peace and Principal Magistrate of the district, and reputed as the father or founder of Green Hills. Andrew Thompson had arrived in NSW as a convict.

Richard Fitzgerald, who promptly built the hotel in accordance with Governor Macquarie's specifications, had arrived as a convict in New South Wales in 1791. By 1800 Fitzgerald had been appointed by Governor Hunter as superintendent of agriculture in Toongabbie, and in 1810 Governor Macquarie appointed him Government Storekeeper.

Fitzgerald appears to have retired from public office in the 1820s. The 1828 census lists him as the possessor of 2000 acres of land, and in conjunction with his farming pursuits, he remained active in local affairs and was elected president of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society which managed the hospital at Windsor.

Richard Fitzgerald and his family lived in a house alongside the Macquarie Arms in George Street, Windsor. His son, Robert, married Elizabeth Rouse of Rouse Hill in 1841, and in 1843 stood for the first partly elected parliament in New South Wales against William Bowman of Richmond.
(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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0004102 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0004127 Feb 81 351188
Local Environmental Plan  21 Jul 95   
Local Environmental Plan  18 Dec 89   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Colonial Landscapes of the Cumberland Plain and Camden, NSW2000 Morris, C., & Britton, G./NSW National Trust (for the Heritage Council of NSW)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Macquarie Arms Hotel View detail
WrittenHelen Baker1967Historic Buildings, Windsor & Richmond
WrittenNichols, Michelle (Local Studies Librarian)2010Macquarie and the Hawkesbury District

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

rez rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045146
File number: S90/06175 & HC 32090

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.