Oatlands Supreme Court House

The Oatlands Supreme Court House (1827) is owned by SMC, and is one of the oldest Supreme Court Houses in Australia.  It is in remarkably original condition and is arguably the most significant heritage building in Oatlands.  It offers significant potential for use as a facility to interpret the many historic themes relevant to the Oatlands Military Precinct and associated buildings. The building was acquired from the National Trust in 2007, although Council has had unofficial tenure of the building since 2002.  With the building comes a large collection of chattels (on loan from the National Trust), which derive from the 1910-1977 phase of the building. 

Due to the extremely intact nature of the building, an analysis of building fabric was undertaken in 2003 (Grant 2003) in a bid to better understand the building, and to plan future works.  A structural assessment was also undertaken in 2003 (Spratt 2003), pursuant to which $50,000 funding was allocated by Council, including $15,000 from the Tasmanian Heritage Council, for restoration of the building.  A summary of the works program was developed by Williams (2006) as part of the THC grant acquittal.  Further restoration works to the building are to be undertaken in the first half of 2008.

With restoration of the building well underway, in 2006 a public access and interpretation plan for the building and collection was commissioned (Gurnhill 2007).  This plan was developed with the aim of determining public perceptions of what best the building could be used for, and to suggest interpretive themes and media which could effectively deliver the heritage significance. 

With a large collection of objects associated with the Oatlands Court House (contents as well as archaeological artifacts), through a grant from the National Library of Australia, in 2007 Council commissioned a preservation survey of the collection and the locations proposed to store and display that collection (Clark & Paterson 2007).  This survey assessed the current condition of the collection, the environmental conditions and security of the existing and proposed storage and display locations, and made recommendations as to how the collections should be stored and displayed in perpetuity.  This survey also validated (from a conservation perspective) the findings of the interpretation plan. 

With the development of the interpretation plan and the preservation survey, an implementation strategy was developed (Williams 2007, revised 2008) to clarify minor conflict between those reports and to guide the implementation of the first stages of interpretation.  Only the first stages of the interpretation plan are to be implemented in the absence of a business plan, which is required to establish the building beyond anything but a volunteer operated basic display facility.  This implementation plan formed the basis of an application to the Tasmanian Community Fund, which was successful in obtaining $33,500 towards the $45,000 project.  This project was competed, and the building opened to the public in May 2010.  Conservation planning documents which have been commissioned by SMC for the Oatlands Supreme Court House include:


  • Grant, M. 2002:  Supreme Court House Oatlands, Conservation and Fabric Study
  • Spratt, P. 2002:  Oatlands Supreme Court House, Structural and Fabric Survey
  • Vincent, R. 2004: Oatlands Court House, Cultural Resource Management
  • Gurnhill, A. 2006: Oatlands Supreme Court House, & Collections, Public Access and Interpretation Plan Volume 1  Volume 2
    Paterson, J., Clark, L. 2007:  Oatlands Gaol & Supreme Court House, Preservation Survey
  • Williams, B. 2007 (revised 2008):  Oatlands Supreme Court House Interpretation Project – Implementation Strategy
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