This great old pub can safely claim the title of “Oldest Pub In Australia” (on the mainland). In 1815 a “spacious and commodious inn” was constructed by Richard Fitzgerald adjoining Thompson Square and was known as the Macquarie Arms. In order to save Government the cost of providing such a structure, Macquarie had given “Mr. Fitzgerald a large allotment in the square on the expressed condition of his building immediately thereon a handsome commodious inn of brick or stone and to be at least two stories high.” ( Macquarie’s Journal of his tours- 12th Jan. 1811)
As originally built in 1815. Drawing by Gary Bell Pub Sketches.
The Sydney Gazette of 29th July, 1815, reported:
That spacious and commodious new Inn at Windsor, called The Macquarie Arms, was opened by the GOVERNOR, on Wednesday the 26th instant, when HIS EXCELLENCY entertained at dinner the Magistrates and other principal Gentlemen residing at Windsor, and in that neighbourhood. Mr. Ransom, who has taken on himself the duties of Innkeeper, is, from his experience in the avocation, thoroughly competent to the undertaking, which we are convinced will be conducted on a liberal footing. Its necessity has long been manifest as there was no house of public reception at Windsor capable of accommodating large and genteel companies, whereas the Macquarie Arms from its extent, plan of building, and adequate number of apartments will be doubtless found worthy of the most liberal patronage and support.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie, 1762 – 1824. This portrait hangs in our Dining Room.
The Hotel’s heritage and history tells us of times when the 73rd Regiment Red Coat Soldiers occupied the upper floor while the convicts were chained up in the cellar areas after spending long hours building this wonderful establishment by hand.
The convicts soon found a way to entertain themselves by smuggling barrels of illegal rum from the Hawkesbury River into the quarters below through the “Rum Smugglers Tunnels”. Richard & Fitzpatrick (two convict brothers) weren’t so lucky in their persuit of the liquid gold when they blew themselves up from chemicals mixed wrongly, consequently died in the cellar. Some experts say you can still find their spirits occupying the same cellar area today as when they lived there.
Likewise you may also find evidence of another Macquarie Arms resident who passed on inside our fine establishment, that of seven year old Mary who is said to have lived in the main bedroom of the second floor of the hotel’s accommodation. Tragically Mary died when she was unable to escape a fire that trapped her on the upper floor she once played hide-and-seek in.
If you’re a local or staff member (past or present), then you will have definitely met or experienced some of our spirit (not the ones in bottles) friends. And if not then you should attend our local Ghost Tour or request a guided tour with one of our staff members.
Links for more research:
Windsor Ghost Tours
Interview with former publican Michael Brolly about his family’s experiences with the local “spirits”.
Paranormal Australia promo with footage filmed in the cellar and upper floor. Visit the Ghozt Crew websitefor more.