Sydney Supreme Court House (Old Court House) | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Sydney Supreme Court House (Old Court House)

Item details

Name of item: Sydney Supreme Court House (Old Court House)
Other name/s: Old Court House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Location: Lat: -33.8697692041 Long: 151.2106299230
Primary address: King Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan


VG No.65700 area 36sqm*64.66sqm (non rateable, no parcel details)
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
King StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address
Elizabeth StreetSydneySydney  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Department of Justice and Attorney GeneralState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Old Supreme Court building located at the corner of Elizabeth and King Streets has historic significance as one of the three remaining Greenway designed buildings in the immediate area, the others are the Hyde Park Barracks and St James Church. The building has aesthetic significance as a design of Australia's first trained architect, Francis Greenway, and as a fine rare and largely intact, if modified, example of the Old Colonial Georgian style as used in a judicial building. The building as historic and social significance as part of the early colonial legal system and as part of Macquarie's vision for Sydney. The site is significant as the location chosen for Macquarie's first Georgian public School which was apparently modified during construction to accommodate the Supreme Court. Representative of the style as used in a courthouse building and representative of the importance given to judicial buildings in the early days of the colony. (Peddle Thorp and Walker Pty Ltd, 1998)

There are substantial later additions by James Barnet. It is prominently sited and forms a major part of the Court group in Queens square and part of the earliest civic group with the Hyde Park Barracks and St James' Church.
Date significance updated: 30 Jun 11
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: F Greenway, J Barnet
Construction years: 1820-1828
Physical description: The Old Supreme Court building is a two storey rectangular building which consists of the original Georgian building with an additional loggia and cornice added in 1868 which gives the building a Victorian Italianate appearance evident in the arched colonnade and raised parapet concealing the roof. Original Greenway elements include windows, fine detail, recessed wall panels, arches, cedar joinery, staircase & cupola. This building along with the Old Registry and Banco Rd Court from the Supreme Court Group.
Other accommodation include Sheriffs office, Legal rooms, Judges chambers, Library/Conference rooms, Chief executive offices, Toilets.
The Old Supreme Court is construced in face sandstock brick with rendered moulded details and slate roofing.
Exterior: Brick, Render, Slate
Interior: Cedar joinery
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good condition
Modifications and dates: Major additions designed by Barnet include the loggia, later timber additions


Historical notes: The original Old Supreme Court House was designed by the colonial Architect Francis Greenway under Governor Macquarie. Designed in 1819 and building began in 1820, Greenway was dismissed before the building was completed in 1828. The building was occupied by the Supreme Court in 1827. Additions were designed by Barnet in 1860s. This building forms part of the centre axial group designed by Greenway with the Hyde Park Barracks and St James Church.
Historical Period: 1801 - 1826, 1851 - 1875

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Aaron Muron Bolot, architect-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0080002 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 1610H   
Public Works Department - Former register     
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenPeddle Thorp & Walker Pty Ltd1998King Street Courts Complex Sydney - Outline Conservation Plan
WrittenPTW Architects2009King Street Courts stage 7. Conservation and upgrading of mezzanine floor chambers of St James Road wing : a photographic record of existing conditions and spaces

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez rez rez rez
rez rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045639
File number: S95/00338/1

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.