3.23 hecatres, located close to Windsor on high ground, which, when the river (Hawkesbury) floods, becomes a secluded, unspoilt island, filled with native plants and fauna and protected from development (Le Sueur, 2017, 7).
A mature garden setting surrounds the house with large mature trees including towering hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamii), Eucalyptus spp., Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) and others (Stuart Read, pers.comm., 2/3/2012).
A two storey Georgian style house of sandstock brick. The main roof and verandah are slate, the latter supported on delicate cast iron columns, the centre bay marked with a simple pediment. Doors are six panel and windows are six pane double hung sashes with stone sills and were originally shuttered, whilst sandstone is used for the foundations, a string course and flagging to the verandah. A two storey late Victorian brick wing was built at the rear. The original house contains some fine Georgian marble chimney pieces and cedar joinery (Sheedy 1975).
Five bedrooms, two one-bedroom apartments. Marble chimney pieces and cedar joinery, wide verandahs and a slate roof on delicate cast-iron columns (Le Sueur, 2017, 7).
There are two brick observatories in the old garden. The smaller one is circular with a segmental flat iron pitched roof. The larger one is also face brick with sandstone quoins, classical pediment over a porch and dentilled cornice to the roof parapet. Windows are of unusual proportions with stuccoed decorations and timber shutters, while the iron segmental roof is double pitched octagonal in form.
Original stable building (Le Sueur, 2017, 7).
A separate building formerly used as a function centre, able to seat 100 guests (ibid, 2017).
Facliities such as a manager's office and lock-up storage bays (ibid, 2017).
1845 - Peninsula House built
1864 - smaller observatory built
1879 - larger observatory built
Physical condition is good. Archaelogical potential is medium.
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).
In 1842 John Tebbutt's father who had migrated as a free settler in 1801 to the Hawkesbury as a successful farmer: Le Sueur, 2017, 7) acquired land on this 'peninsula' and built the Peninsula House (also known as Peninsular House) in 1845. A two storey wing was later added at the rear.
John Tebbutt (1824-1916) was born at Windsor, educated locally and developed an interest in astronomy (ASHET, 2008, 3). He was inspired by his school teacher, Edward Quaife, who encouraged him. He became passionately interested in mechanical objects and 'celestial mechanisms', gradually accumulating instruments and experience (Le Sueur, 2017, 7).
Tebbutt bought his first instrument, a marine sextant, in 1853. He achieved international fame when he was the first to discover the 'Great Comet of 1861', announcing his discovery of one of the finest comets on record. In 1862 he refused the position of Government Astronomer for New South Wales (ASHET, 2008, 3) because it meant leaving Windsor.
In 1864 John Tebbutt erected a small round wooden observatory in the garden (since demolished) and in 1879 he built a second, larger circular observatory close to the old one. (Le Sueur, 2017 says the first wooden observatory was builtin 1863 (since demolished), a second circular structure was built in 1874 and in 1879 he built a further square building).
Tebbutt was a private astronomer, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (ASHET, 2008, 3) who continued to make patient, reliable astronomical observations and published regularly, building an international reputation (ASHET, 2008, 3).
From the observatories he watched various astronomical phenomena - lunar occultations of stars, Jupiter's satellites, comets, minor planets, double stars, transits of Mercury and Venus - and his work won international acknowledgement.
In 1872 he bought an 11.4cm refracting telescope with which he observed the transit of Venus in 1874 and in 1886 imported a 200mm Grubb refracting telescope and housed it in a substantial brick observatory building on his property at Windsor. The telescope later went to New Zealand but was returned to Australia at the time of the Bicentenary and rehoused in its original location. Hawkesbury City Council now owns the telescope.
Tebbutt spent his whole life at Windsor, devoting most of his time to astronomy. He never left Australia, but corresponded with colleagues around the world and published widely. Tebbutt's 'Astronomical Memoirs' of 1908 listed his 371 publications in various learned journals. His image was on the $100 note from 1984-1996.
He had 6 daughters and one son. His direct descendents still own and occupy the property at Windsor. He died in 1916 and was buried in the Anglican cemetery in a vault that he designed himself. The funeral was one of the largest ever held at Windsor. (ASHET, 2008, 3).