On Sunday 28 July, one of Melbourne’s oldest institutions, the Supreme Court of Victoria, will open for Open House Melbourne.
Open for Open House
The biggest colonial building project undertaken in Australia in the 1880s, with a gold rush budget, the Trial Division building at 210 William Street is an iconic landmark with much of the original stonework, polished cedar panelling, high ceilings and ornate plasterwork, intact.
Visitors to the Court will have an opportunity to chat to staff and take in the view of the courtrooms from spaces usually occupied by jurors, barristers, the media and judges.
If the walls of the Banco courtroom could talk, the stories it would surely tell about the civil and criminal cases that have been heard within. And the ceremonies it has hosted in more modern times, including the welcomes and farewells of judicial officers, and the official admission of lawyers into the legal profession to practice Australian law.
Courtroom 4, where the very first case to be heard in the building commenced with the wrong prisoner being brought to the dock from the historic cells beneath, will be open to the public. Today it is where many of the state’s high profile criminal matters are heard.
Courtroom 15 with its modern interior, from a 2008 year refurbishment, provides contrast to the grandeur of the criminal courtrooms. Today it is a hive of commercial litigation and also hears high-profile appeal and civil matters.
Despite the magnificent Supreme Court Library being 135 years old, it carries on today as a modern functioning library for the legal profession. An exhibition in the library reflects on 50 years since the Menhennitt ruling, a significant ruling delivered in the Supreme Court of Victoria that concerned the legality of abortion in Victoria.
Get involved in all of the Court’s Open House Melbourne activities
- Sit in on a talk in Banco courtroom at 12.15pm, where judges and staff will explore the Court’s art and architecture and how 21st century justice is delivered in a 19th century building.
- Join a history and heritage tour of the building, with guided tours running every hour (for about 30 minutes) from 10.30am with the last tour at 2.30pm. Numbers are capped, with bookings only available at the Court on the day.
- Take a tour of the library and hear how the Law Library of Victoria manages one of the largest law collections in the state. Tours run every hour from 10.15am, for approximately 20 minutes, with the last tour at 2.15pm. Numbers are capped, with bookings only available at the Court on the day.
- Find out what lies beneath the Court on a tour of the historic cells, where prisoners were once held underneath courtroom 4 before being led along the narrow passage and into the dock. Bookings only via Eventbrite.
- Or, take it all in yourself, and get your Gertie on. Download Episode 5: A Place of Reverence in the Gertie’s Law podcast series, and self-tour the building.
- The courtyard will come alive throughout with musical performances by BottledSnail and the Victorian College of the Arts VCE students, with coffee, tea and light refreshments on offer, for those wishing to take a break from their busy Open House schedule, and soak in the heritage and history of the court.
Supreme Court open hours for Open House Melbourne
10am to 4pm, Sunday 28 July 2019
210 William Street
Supreme Court of Victoria
Members of the public are welcome to visit the Supreme Court of Victoria and sit in and observe matters underway at any time during the year. Find out more about attending court and matters currently underway.