Our story at the Bar Convent begins
with a secret…


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 was Mary Ward, who 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, we are the oldest living convent in the UK, our house is central to the global order and there are more than 200 schools
worldwide in Mary Ward’s name.

Our Georgian house is open for all to explore- and to discover our story of secrets, spies and survival.

With a fascinating exhibition, chapel, café, garden and guest house- there is something for everyone to enjoy!

Our sister house, St. Bede’s Pastoral Centre, is just next door.