The Old Royal High School, also known as New Parliament House, is a 19th-century neoclassical building on Calton Hill in the city of Edinburgh. The building was constructed for the use of the city’s Royal High School and gained its alternative name as a result of a proposal in the 1970s for it to house a devolved Scottish Assembly.
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.
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 users 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.
Edinburgh’s original Parliament House is in the Old Town just off the Royal Mile and currently houses the Court of Session. These were the buildings of the former Parliament of Scotland which existed before the formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 and the foundation of a British Parliament sitting at London’s Palace of Westminster.