A country court house

Camden Court House

History and Description

Camden Court House is built on land set aside for this purpose by James and William Macarthur at the time the town allotment plans were laid down. The brothers also offered £100 towards the cost of building.

Camden Court House 1991 CWTimes Camden Images
Camden Court House is located at 33 John Street Camden. It an important part of the John Street Historic Precinct in central Camden. The court house is not as grand as larger buildings on the New South Wales goldfields where the size of the building represented the authority of law and order. This image was taken in 1991 when the court still held hearings of the Local Court. (CW Times)


The first buildings on this site were a timber lock-up and Chief Constable’s residence. The present building was commenced in 1855 and completed in 1857 with cells underneath and at the rear. The building was designed during William Weaver’s term as Government Architect. A new lock-up was built to replace the old one between 1859-61.


A Court of Petty Sessions at Camden was established by Proclamation on 20 July 1841 after lengthy opposition from both Campbelltown and Picton who were requesting that the Cawdor Court be removed either to Campbelltown or Picton. Until that date the Court was still at Cawdor. (http://www.camdenhistory.org.au/chhistoricplaces.html)


The first Clerk of the Bench in the area was James Pearson who was Clerk at Cawdor until his death on 13 July 1841. John Downes Wood, a nephew of Charles Cowper was appointed the first Clerk of Petty Sessions for Camden by Government Proclamation on 23 September 1841. When the new courthouse was completed the Clerk of the Bench was J.B. Martin, who retained this position for 35 years. (http://www.camdenhistory.org.au/chhistoricplaces.html)

Building description

Camden Court House is a small Italianate court building with a temple front loggia with three arches. It is a painted ashlar building with painted chimneys and a gable shingled roof. There is a circular window on the front facade, and twelve pane and two pane double hung windows on the side facades. The entrance door is a six panelled timber door. The cells were constructed underneath and at the rear. (NSW SHI)

Condition and Use

Camden Court House building is in good condition. (NSW SHI)

In 2013 the NSW Government spent $200,000 on refurbishment of Camden court house. (Camden Narellan Advertiser, 25 September 2013)

Heritage Significance

The courthouse has been closed in 2014  and is part of the John Street historic precinct.

Camden courthouse, like its neighbouring police station, is of little value alone. Its value lies in its relationship to the other important buildings. It is probably the work of colonial architect Alexander Dawson. (Australian Heritage Database)

Heritage Listing

Local Environment Plan                       Item  43

Australian Heritage Commission        Australian Heritage Database  ID 3230

Read more

Iliana Stillitano, ‘Court shut down’, Camden Narellan Advertiser, 1 July 2014

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