Corner Brisbane and Campbell Streets, Hobart, Tasmania.     

Welcome to the Private

Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site

Web Site.

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

But please
read on to discover and enjoy
the Historic Story
of this fantastic Site online right here !

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 which later became the Hobart Gaol in 1857.

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.

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. The Gaol Chapel was restored to display John Lee Archer's original design, but unfortunately in 2016 it has been desecrated by converting it into a picture theatre.


This privately owned web site seeks only to present to the world one of Australia’s most significant heritage precincts.

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'Eulogy' on the Desecration of The Chapel


 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 exceptionally large video projectors are suspended from John Lee Archer's incredibly beautiful historical timber ceiling beams to project images onto the Chapel walls which have been repainted white. 24 audio speakers are mounted on and around the beams and the Chapel interior. All five original 1831 heritage Chapel windows have had timber frames mounted in them with remote controlled blinds to darken the chapel during daylight hours.

An overly long 90 minute video called "Pandemonium" is projected onto the chapel walls.

Various dictionaries and vocabularies define 'Pandemonium' as Chaos, Total and Utter Craziness, Wild and Noisy Disorder or Confusion, a Stampede with people bouncing off each other with everyone just panicking.

As this video is shown in the dark in the Chapel, with its steep stairs and very restricted access, with NO EMERGENCY STRIP LIGHTING OR EXIT SIGNS; if there is ever a power failure, a fire, a medical or any other sort of emergency during the showing of the film, then the true definition of Pandemonium, unfortunately and possibly tragically for those people in the Chapel, will beyond doubt come into effect.

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 and the Chapel will be returned to accurately depict exactly what John Lee Archer designed it as back in 1831, a Chapel.

Notwithstanding the continuing 2016 abuse to the site, please continue to read about the Site's amazing Historical and Heritage Significance



Tasmanian Stories - Read online some interesting stories regarding an Archaeological Dig and the Forbidden Gate


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

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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

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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