St Giles' during the Reformation
Knox and the Reformers split the interior of St Giles' into many rooms, dividing the congregation of Edinburgh and allowing the building to be used for a wide range of purposes. During the next 300 years the building housed a police station, a fire station, a school and a coal store. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland met here, as did the Parliament and the Burgh and City Councils. The Scottish guillotine, the 'Maiden', was housed in the church, and in one corner was a prison used for "harlots and whores".
Although it is commonly assumed that St Giles' and most other Scottish churches were 'cleansed' by riots, there is little evidence to support this. Burgh records show that it took over a year to convert St Giles' for Reformed worship. The building was not looted, and few if any windows were destroyed immediately.
When Knox died in 1572 he was buried in the old graveyard that then
stood to the south of the church. This area now forms part of Parliament