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Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland

New College of the University of Edinburgh and the Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

New College of the University of Edinburgh and the Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland

Lying behind the frontage of New College at the top of the Mound in Edinburgh, the Assembly Hall was erected for the Free Church of Scotland, which had separated from the established Church in the Disruption of 1843. It was built as the Free High Kirk in 1859 by David Bryce (1803-76), with alterations of 1901 by J.M. Dick Peddie. When the United Free Church merged with the Church of Scotland in 1929, the building became a meeting place for the General Assembly, which meets annually in May. The General Assembly, which comprises ministers, elders and lay members, is the governing body of the Church, which debates issues of the day and sets policy.

The first General Assembly of the Church of Scotland took place in Magdalen Chapel in the Cowgate in 1560 and included Protestant reformer John Knox (c.1513-72). In the 19th Century, the Assembly moved to Victoria Hall, which became the Highland Tolbooth Kirk and recently the Edinburgh Festival Centre (The Hub).

The Assembly Hall was subject to alterations in 1999 to accommodate the temporary debating chamber of the revived Scottish Parliament before it moved to its permanent home in 2004.


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