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News Release - Issued by the Bar Convent

Explore behind the scenes at the Bar Convent as part of Heritage Open Days 2014

York’s best kept heritage ‘secret’, the Bar Convent, will be joining in the Heritage Open Days scheme for the first time this year.

The Bar Convent is the oldest living convent in England, situated at Micklegate Bar since 1686: a key part of York’s history for nearly 350 years, treasured by visitors from around the world as a ‘little gem in the hustle and bustle of the city’ and ‘a very special and inspiring place with a wonderful story.’ (Visitor, February 2013)

Yet many people pass the Convent’s imposing Georgian façade on Blossom Street every day, knowing little about its hidden histories, and the people who have lived there over the centuries.

On Friday 12 September (10am-4pm) and the morning of Saturday 13 September (9.30am – 12 noon), visitors will be able to find out more about this unique, important, and surprising building, its extraordinary 350 year heritage and wealth of fascinating stories. With tours of the building, and the opportunity to chat to members of the Sisters who live there, the Bar Convent will be brought to life, telling the stories of Mary Ward, inspiring 17th century pioneer of education for girls and the role of women in the Church and her followers across the centuries.

The Bar Convent itself is an architectural gem, comprising fine Grade 1 listed 18th century buildings on the site of the original house, including an exquisite ‘hidden’ recusant Chapel (complete with priest hole), disguised from outside view as was demanded in those less tolerant times. Admission and the tours are free, and there’s no need to book.

Visitors will also be able to find out about the Bar Convent’s exciting plans for the future, and their Living Heritage Project which will improve and develop visitor facilities, making the Bar Convent accessible to all visitors, especially those with limited mobility. It will create a new, interactive, state-of-the-art exhibition over two floors, telling the remarkable stories of Mary Ward and The Bar Convent. Extending access, improving understanding, and building audiences in this way will raise awareness of the history and contemporary work of the Convent, and generate additional visitors and revenue: securing the future of this unique and important institution.

The Living Heritage Project is a £2m capital scheme, for which The Bar Convent has to date raised nearly £700,000 in generous donations from individuals, charitable trusts and foundations, and supporters. Work is planned to start onsite in Spring 2015, and completed in Autumn 2015.

For information on Bar Convent and the Heritage Open Days, visit, or call 01904 643236.

For Living Heritage Project: for details or to sign up for the regular enewsletter.

Note to editors:

The Bar Convent receives no public funding. All monies raised by this campaign will support the Living Heritage Project and the work of The Bar Convent: Registered Charity No 294320

For further information, interviews and images, contact:
Jean Hunter 07836 268059/01759 306156