Old Royal High School / New Parliament House, Edinburgh, Scotland

The Neoclassical building in Edinburgh was constructed in the 1800s to house the Royal High School and since 1968 accommodated a debating chamber for the Scottish Parliament.

Old Royal High School / Parliament House, Edinburgh, Scotland
 

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The Royal High School was constructed between 1826 to 1829 on the south face of Calton Hill in Edinburgh, at a cost of £34,000. Of this £500 was given by King George IV ‘as a token of royal favour towards a School, which, as a royal foundation, had conferred for ages incalculable benefits on the community’. It was designed in a neo-classical Greek Doric style by Thomas Hamilton, who modelled the portico and Great Hall on the Hephaisteion of Athens.

After the Old Royal High School was vacated in 1968, the building became available and was refurbished to accommodate a new devolved legislature for Scotland. However, the 1979 devolution referendum failed to provide sufficient backing for a devolved assembly. Its debating chamber was later used for meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee, the committee of Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom House of Commons with constituencies in Scotland. Subsequently, the building has been used as offices for departments of Edinburgh City Council, including The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award unit and the Sports and Outdoor Education unit.

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - The grand Neoclassical frontage of the building

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – The grand Neoclassical frontage of the building

With the passage of the Scotland Act 1998 and the introduction of Scottish devolution in 1999, the Old Royal High School was again mooted as a potential home for the new Scottish Parliament. Eventually, however, the Scotland Office decided to site the new legislature in a purpose-built structure in the Holyrood area of the Canongate. A number of uses have been suggested for the building, including a home for a Scottish National Photography Centre. As of 2015, Edinburgh City Council – the building’s current owners – have initiated a project to lease the building to be used as a luxury hotel.

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - The assembly hall was converted refitted as a debating chamber for the Scottish Parliament

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – The assembly hall was converted refitted as a debating chamber for the Scottish Parliament

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - The Scottish Parliament never used the debating chamber

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – The Scottish Parliament never used the debating chamber

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - View towards the speaker's chair

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – View towards the speaker’s chair

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - The speakers chairs with deputies either side

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – The speakers chairs with deputies either side

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - Behind the speaker's chairs

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – Behind the speaker’s chairs

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - The debating chamber from the balcony

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – The debating chamber from the balcony

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - Looking down from the balcony

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – Looking down from the balcony

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - Former library to one side of the debating chamber

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – Former library to one side of the debating chamber

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - The room at the other side mirrored the library

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – The room at the other side mirrored the library

East staircase to balcony

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East staircase to balcony

West staircase to balcony

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West staircase to balcony

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - There were also many modernised offices

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – There were also many modernised offices

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - Eastern wing columns

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – Eastern wing columns

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - Behind the columns

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – Behind the columns

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - Columns around the central section

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – Columns around the central section

Old Royal High School / Parliament House - Behind the central columns

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Old Royal High School / Parliament House – Behind the central columns

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