We look at this side of the building today. Note the building on the left that
looks like a two-storey house, the very enclosed yard and the cut-off wall on
First though, a wonky plan :) It helped me make sense of what was where. It
also shows how the two underground passages and the security tunnel (in blue)
all go to the central little room. At least they would if I'd put the doors in.
"Locally made tin mug" and "Ink wells from the court rooms".
Some of these photos I've heavily lightened (ah, lightened a lot?), otherwise
they'd just be photos of black with maybe a lighter bit. This would make it
easier to organise the posts, but after a while you might realise I've using
the some photo each time.
That's the last door photos, promise. (You didn't see the 3 or 4 I deleted
either :) It's a nice thick though, with a big bolt and a little window.
Attention is drawn to the well-worn floor, and wall in places, but you can't
see that in the photos.
Stairs up from the underground passage (this is the little central room in the
plan, where all the passageways meet).
This room is marked as "Green" on the plan.
The chapel remained in use until 1960/1961. It was never consecrated, so it was
used by various denominations
'On looking about me, I could not discover more than twelve, among twelve
hundred prisoners, who appeared to be taking any notice of the service. Some
were spinning yarns, some playing at pitch and toss, some gambling with cards;
several were crawling about under the benches, selling candy, tobacco, &c., and
one fellow carried a bottle of rum, which he was serving out in small
quantities to those who had an English sixpence to give for a small wine-glass
full. Disputes occasionally arose which ended in a blow or kick; but in these
cases the constables, who were present to maintain order, generally felt called
upon to interfere. If any resistance was offered to their authority the culprit
was seized by the arms and collar, dragged out of the church and thrust into
the cells beneath.'
Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site
The courts continued in use until the 1980s. After the gaol was relocated, the
chapel was partly demolished and a caged tunnel was put in to connect the
holding cells to the underground passages.
You might be able to see the tour guide leaning on the bench and looking
pleased with himself. That's because he's talking normally, but his voice
carries clearly to us at the top
Don't get too close to the edge. The dark door with a hole in it leads to the
my camera does exactly what I want it to.)
Underneath the seats are the remains of solitary cells, with the arched tops.
Inside a solitary cell (with tour guide on the left there).
That's a window, a bricked up window with a rather thick frame.
The window is in the gap in the brick wall on the left.
Erm. It's an interesting door! It has a hole in it!
When the chapel was first converted to courts, rooms were built about Court 2.
These rooms were assigned to Mr J T Smith, Deputy Gaoler at the time who
complained to the Sheriff in 1883 about the lack of facilities, especially a
water closet. He and his family were banned from using the downstairs water
closed when the Police Magistrate was sitting and had to leave home for the
"necessary purposes of nature".
From information panel in Deputy Gaoler's House
In 1910, this house was finally built for use by the Deputy Gaoler. After the
gaol was relocated in 1960, the rooms were converted into holding cells for
prisoners awaiting their turn in court.
Incongruous: old fashioned wallpaper & decorative mouldings with modern holding
The walls are covered in graffiti, much of which is disturbing, the tour guide
said, and then added that as soon as he says this, the women in the tour groups
always rush over for a look.
Of course, I know no one reading this would be interested, so I won't link this
to a larger version of the photo.
You have to imagine verandas on here.
Back under the chapel, there is a short hall with more cells along it, and a
door to outside and the last location on the tour.
The door at the far end of the building leads to the execution yard.
The gallows have been reconstructed. I do seem to recall the beam from which
the rope hangs was recovered from somewhere, probably Risdon.(There are some
news paper clipping on the website
about artefacts that have been recently returned, and a ghost story too.)