IN a historic acknowledgement of the importance of St Matthew’s Anglican Church to Australia’s colonial history, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the church in Windsor on April 30, 1970.
Canon Harold Rawson was the rector at the time. The Bishop of Parramatta, Gordon Begbie came out to escort the Queen around.
Crowds queued to see the Queen who met the parish wardens and their wives and crowds of local school children who waved flags in welcome.
It was described by the Fairfax photographer at the time as being only a 10-minute visit, but while there the Queen and her husband examined the 1822 silver chalice and plate given to the church by King George IV.
Interestingly, the chalice is actually inscribed “St Andrew, Windsor”, a quirk showing there was some confusion as to its name at the time.
The original chapel in Thompson Square was dedicated to St Andrew and perhaps many made the assumption the new church would have the same name, despite Macquarie having dedicated the new one to St Matthew in 1817.
While at St Matthew’s the Queen also signed the visitor book while Prince Phillip looked at an 1820 Bible.
Now, 47 years after her visit, Queen Elizabeth has written a letter of congratulations, on Buckingham Palace letterhead, to St Matthew’s on the occasion of its 200th birthday of the foundation stone being put in place, reproduced in the souvenir booklet being sold over the weekend celebrations.
The Queen didn’t have time to inspect the graveyard but she would have found some extraordinary people. The oldest grave is that of Andrew Thompson who died in 1810. Thompson, after whom Thompson Square is named, was the first ex-convict deemed worthy of the rank of magistrate. There are also 30 graves of First Fleeters. When Rebecca Cox, wife of Blue Mountains road builder William, died in 1819, he buried her in a new area in the south-west corner, away from the ex-convicts. Government Astronomer John Tebbutt is close by.