Tour of the Old Supreme Court

Ive just discovered that this blogpost failed to load back in January. So here it is now, albeit a little later than planned! Enjoy.


The National Gallery, Singapore


4pm Saturday 12th January 2019

The tour lasted around 75 minutes.

How much?

This was a free event to ‘Insider’ members and their guest. (‘Insider’ is the annual pass for the National Gallery.) It is a new tour and the proposed charge is $15 per person. No children under 13 years old are allowed due to the gruesome nature of the murder stories told. (A policy I agree with having done the tour.)

What did we see?

This was a guided tour of the old Supreme Court which now forms part of the National Gallery. This was billed as previously unseen and unheard of parts of the Supreme Court and it certainly was. We climbed back stairs, walked through peoples’ work spaces to access previously unseen parts of the Supreme Court. We had the privilege of walking up original teak stairways, floors and entering the holding cells and the dock; areas previously only walked by the accused, convicted or police and court staff.

It was a fascinating insight to the security arrangements and trepidation that the accused and convicted alike faced. There was absolutely no escaping anywhere after entering the building which was designed so that they never came in contact with the public moving between the cells and the courtrooms. Walls and stairways were lined with cages and there are no windows anywhere. Handcuffed and shackled the entire time they were in the Supreme Court. This is to prevent those skilled in martial arts from escaping, a factor which would probably not be even considered in the U.K. They were also handcuffed and shackled in the dock to prevent escape.

The Chief Justice had a private secure entrance with a car park and a lift to take him directly to his suite of offices and the courtroom, all designed so that he never had to come into contact with the public (and therefore be at risk of an attack).

The guide was very informative and told us all about the history of the building, the designers, the builders and those who used it. There were many anecdotes and stories along the way about lawyers, visitors and some infamous cases tried there. One gruesome story was about the murder of the guide’s own brother and the trial and subsequent conviction for murder of his killer, who was sentenced to death by hanging.

iPhone Images

Original tiled flooring
Entrance to the Supreme Court (no longer used in order to preserve it)
Fixtures and fittings from the Supreme Court
The 5 foot wide and deep foundation stone that the Japanese tried to destroy after invasion.
A holding cell. No one stayed overnight. Squat loo (the flush was on the outside of the cell).
Toilet flushes outside the holding cells
Stairs up from the cells towards the courtroom. Notice the bars everywhere. Prisoners were also shackled and handcuffed.
Original teak stairs leading straight into the dock.
The dock. The accused were shackled and handcuffed to it.
Trapdoor to the stairs back to the holding cells.
The judge sat underneath this dome, shaped so to assist sound projection so the judge could be heard.
Original French windows. Enabled air circulation in the days before AC.
The magnificent library
Supreme Court Chief Justice’s Office with Y shaped table to enable meetings
The old Supreme Court Room
The Chief Justice’s chair and lawyers front benches
The Supreme Court Room from the observers gallery