Discover the history of England’s oldest living convent in the fascinating exhibition and stunning 18th Century Hidden Chapel, one of the finest examples in Europe. Enjoy a visit to the café for some of the best scones and cakes in the city and don’t miss the chance to stay in the award-winning guest house situated in the heart of York. The remarkable story of this magnificent heritage building spans more than 300 years. It was established in great secrecy during the reformation, a time when Catholicism was punishable by death, as a convent and the first school for girls in York. It is still the home of a community of Catholic sisters today, welcoming those of all faiths and none to step into York’s best kept secret since 1686.

What is a living convent?

A living convent is defined as one with a continuously resident religious community. The sisters have lived on this site in the city of York for over three centuries now! They were one of the earliest educational establishments for young women in the country and played an important role in the history of York.

The Bar Convent is England’s oldest living convent, founded in 1686 by sisters of the Congregation of Jesus. The installation of a state-of-the-art interactive exhibition tells the rich and fascinating story of the convent, spanning three centuries of social change, perseverance and faith in action. Discover three hundred years of history and the remarkable people who have shaped it. Meet the radical Yorkshire nun and pioneer Mary Ward, whose devotion to her cause took her on foot across the Alps – twice. Learn about secrets and spies, angry mobs and Luftwaffe bombs. Hide yourself away inside a priest hole – then find out how to hide an entire chapel.

  • Adults – £5
  • Concessions – £4
  • Children (6 to 15) – £2
  • Under 6s – FREE!
  • Family Tickets (2 Adults and 2 Children) – £10

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