Established in 1686, at a time when it was illegal to be Catholic, a group of religious sisters, now known as the Congregation of Jesus, opened this secret convent.

Their foundress, Mary Ward, pioneered the idea of religious women working as missionaries- part of that mission was to educate girls.

Following Mary’s death, the order founded the first schools for girls in the country- the second in this house. Today, it is the oldest living convent in the UK, it is central to the global order and there are more than 200 schools worldwide in Mary Ward’s name.


Discover our story of secrecy, spies and survival in our fascinating exhibition and stunning 18th Century Hidden Chapel.

Enjoy a visit to our café for some of the best scones and cakes in the city and don’t miss the chance to stay in our award-winning Guest House situated in the heart of York.


Explore the history of this fascinating house through incredible artefacts, engaging interactives and stories of the people who changed the course of history.


Our recently refurbished rooms offer comfort, convenience and friendly service within a heritage building that is steeped in history.

Sign the Petition! #MaryWardForSaint

Sign the Petition! #MaryWardForSaint

January 19, 2024 - January 1, 2025    
All Day
Help us with our cause to have the trailblazer Yorkshire woman Mary Ward (1585–1645) declared a Saint by the Catholic [...]
Trailblazers of the Bar Convent

Trailblazers of the Bar Convent

May 25, 2024 - September 30, 2024    
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
  25 May- 30 September 2024 Included in admission to the exhibition. Complete the trail to win a £30 voucher [...]
York Georgian Festival

York Georgian Festival

August 1, 2024 - August 3, 2024    
All Day
Join the Bar Convent as we take part in the citywide York Georgian Festival 2024! Discover the beautiful Georgian architecture [...]