Corner Brisbane and Campbell Streets, Hobart, Tasmania.     

Welcome to the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site web site.

Situated on the corner of Brisbane and Campbell Streets in Hobart, Tasmania,  the Penitentiary Chapel was built  in the early 1830's according to the design of Irish born Colonial Architect and Civil Engineer John Lee Archer.

Originally designed as a Chapel for the growing male convict population in  Hobart Town, there was also the inclusion of 36 solitary confinement punishment cells, unlit and poorly ventilated, constructed beneath the Chapel floor. The Chapel served the adjoining Prisoners Barracks or Penitentiary. The site later became the Hobart Gaol.

In late 1859 the Nave and Eastern Transept of the Chapel were converted into two Supreme Criminal Courts. The western transept remained to become a Gaol Chapel with an Execution Yard and Gallows attached.

Today the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site remains a fascinating insight into Colonial Tasmania. A beautiful 1834 tower with the two Courtrooms remaining virtually unchanged for over 150 years, and the Gaol Chapel restored to display John Lee Archer's original design.

This is a privately owned web site to reveal to the world one of Australia’s most significant heritage precincts.

 This Web site is not owned, administered or controlled by the National Trust of Australia (Tasmania)


Eulogy on the Desecration of The Chapel

Recently I stood above the final resting place of Solomon Blay, Tasmania’s long serving Public Executioner at Cornelian Bay Cemetery. I voiced out loud a sincere request that he and his fellow ex-convicts, many interred around him in this Paupers Grave site, would allow me to ‘move on’ after burying deeply my grief and feelings with them at the ‘Desecration’ of Colonial Architect and Civil Engineer John Lee Archer’s magnificent 1831 Penitentiary Chapel.

In early July 2016 approval was granted to allow the National Trust of Australia (Tasmania) to convert the last remaining transept of Lee Archer’s beautiful chapel into a ‘video theatre’ as part of their project to make the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site into a ‘Post-Mona Museum’.

Three large video projectors and 24 audio speakers are being mounted on and around John Lee Archers incredibly beautiful historical timber ceiling beams to project images onto the Chapel walls which have been repainted white. All four original heritage Chapel windows will have timber frames mounted in them with remote controlled blinds to darken the chapel during daylight hours.

My sincere hope is that sometime soon in the future, coherent commonsense will triumph and when this project fails, as I and many others believe it will, there will be a return of Trust by forward thinking people with a true sense of conserving Tasmania’s built Heritage and History and not the present ‘Cash Cow’ mentality which prevails today.

Not withstanding the current 2016 abuse to the site, please continue to read about its amazing Historical and Heritage Significance

View the Amazing Tasmanian Geographic Photospheres of the Site

As seen world wide on Ghost Hunters International


See the Events page for scenes of  The First Fagin filmed in the Historic Site

* * * * * * * * * * * *

A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen's Land

Simon Barnard has produced an outstanding large format, brilliantly illustrated, full colour book which belongs on the book shelves of every Australian.

The book contains several exceptional illustrations of the Prisoners Barracks, especially Simon's amazingly accurate depiction of the penitentiary Chapel

* * * * * * * * * * *




© 2016. All Rights Reserved



The Voice of Generations


The last brilliant novel by Christopher Koch (twice winner of the Miles Franklin Award) is partly enacted  in the Historic Supreme Courtroom