When the Convent was established, it was one of only two permanent Catholic communities in England, both of which were run by the sisters of this congregation.
As such, this building became a place of safety for precious relics and other Catholic objects to be looked after. Many families that had kept these items hidden away for generations returned them to the church by giving them to the convent, and the sisters here became the guardians of the church’s legacy.
The Micklegate area of York in particular was central to the Catholic community as it was just outside the city walls and therefore just outside the jurisdiction of the city authorities who were responsible for finding and prosecuting Catholics.
The building is Grade 1 listed, which means it is deemed to be of ‘exceptional interest’, and is therefore protected.
The house you see today spans from a Georgian frontage, parlour and chapel, with a Victorian Atrium and more recent updates, built upon the original footprint. You will find original features throughout including our famous Maw-tiled floor, Coalbrookdale furniture, Country Chippendale, architectural features designed by G T Andrews (best-known for his designs of railway stations), beautiful clocks including some from famous clock-maker Henry Hindley, and even an original priest’s hiding hole.
The archives collection belonging to the order is a fascinating accumulation of documentation relating to the history of the house, the order and the collections; from house deeds and account books to diaries and provenance records.
The library collection of Rare Books ranges from 1508‒1850. It gives remarkable insight into the historical and religious context in which they were written, published, distributed and used when Catholicism was illegal in England and Wales. They also reveal how the founding women used the books to establish the teachings of their own religious order despite it also being suppressed by the Catholic Church. You can see the library from the exhibition. Access is by appointment only.