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The building on the south side of Parliament Square, with its Italian façade and imposing Doric portico, is occupied by the Court of Session, the supreme judicature in Scotland.
The great central hail, with its magnificent timber roof - the finest north of the Tweed - was the meeting-place of the Scottish Parliament from 1640 till the Union of 1707.
Since then the Parliament Hall, together with the adjoining buildings, has accommodated the College of Justice (the ancient name of the Court of Session), and in the handsome stained-glass window to the south there is depicted the inauguration of this institution by James V. in 1532.
When the Court is sitting, Parliament Hall presents a scene of great bustle and animation. Here agents, counsel, and clients foregather; it also forms a promenade for briefless advocates. The Hall is adorned with portraits and statues of former legal luminaries.,
Below this building is housed meantime the National Library of Scotland, which was founded three years ago through the munificence of an Edinburgh citizen, Sir Alexander Grant, Bart., who gave £100,000 for its permanent endowment, and a further £100,000 towards the cost of building.
This, the largest and finest collection of books and manuscripts in Scotland, was formerly the property of the Faculty of Advocates. The Advocates' Library (to give the institution the title by which it was known for nearly two and a half centuries) is widely regarded as the finest working law library in the British Isles and had the right to receive a copy of every book published in the country, except costly private issues - a privilege which it has enjoyed since the year 1709. Its literary treasures include letters of Mary Queen of Scots, relics of Prince Charles Edward, and the original manuscript of Sir Walter Scott's Waverley.
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