Internationally-significant convict site in the heart of Hobart, which became the old gaol and supreme court.
In the early 1830’s, a service in the chapel of the Van Diemen’s Land Prisoners’ Barracks Penitentiary (shortened by inmates to ‘The Tench’) was far from a serene and holy experience.
The building, in the shape of a cruciform, was designed by John Lee Archer to make additional space for the growing number of convicts arriving in the colony. The design included thirty-six solitary confinement cells beneath the chapel floor, which were later declared inhuman.
When transportation ended, the site became Hobart Town Gaol for more than 100 years. Sections of the chapel were converted into two Supreme Courts connected by tunnels to the gaol, and an execution yard and gallows were added.
Over 50,000 convicts passed through The Tench and their stories are told through the various guided tours and experiences available today.
This incredible site is also available for private bookings, school tours and conference cocktails (see below for details).