Edinburgh Photo Library
- Assembly Hall

Assembly Hall


This building (also known as St Columba's Free Church) is located on The Mound, perched high above Princes Street Gardens and Princes Street. It was designed with towers and turrets in Tudor style by William Playfair, for the Free Church of Scotland as a college and offices in the middle of the 19th century. The Assembly Hall itself was designed by David Bryce and built in 1858-9. However, after the reunion of the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland, it was used each year for the Church of Scotland's General Assembly and as the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Edinburgh.

When the referendum on re-establishing a separate parliament in Scotland produced a positive result in 1997, the search for suitable accommodation for the legislature began in earnest. Although there was support for using the former Royal High School of Edinburgh at the foot of Calton Hill (long a symbol of nationalism) the Secretary of State for Scotland, Donald Dewar, decided that the most cost-effective solution was a new bulding at Holyrood (across the road from the royal palace). That meant that temporary accommodation was needed while the new Parliament building was constructed. Due to the lengthy delays in that project, the Church of Scotland Assembly Room and College became its temporary home from 1999 to 2004. On a number of those years, Parliament vacated the building so that the church's General Assembly could take place there.

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