Timeline – hover for zoom, click to open


Visit our exhibition to explore the history of this fascinating house through incredible artefacts, engaging interactives and stories of the people who changed the course of history.

Discover more about Yorkshire martyr St Margaret Clitherow, the radical pioneer of women’s religious orders and education, Mary Ward, and her followers, the Sisters of the Congregation of Jesus, who still reside in the convent today.
With family activities during school holidays, and a changing programme of temporary displays, there is always something new to discover.

The Bar Convent hidden chapel. Photography Gareth Buddo.


Our stunning 18th century Hidden Chapel is a rare example, and amongst the most remarkable, to have survived the English Reformation.

It was built in secrecy in 1769 by renowned York Architect Thomas Atkinson under the direction of Mother Ann Aspinal at a time when Catholicism was still illegal and punishable by death.


Our beautiful Atrium was designed in the 1840s as a ‘Winter Garden’, providing somewhere for the school girls to exercise during rainy weather.

Much of what you can see is original to the space. The Victorian floor tiles are laid in a unique design created by the Maw brothers of Staffordshire. The central circular pattern marks the old well for the house. The cast iron beamed roof was added by George Townsend Andrews, the famous railway architect and the iron furniture is original Coalbrookdale.


The Georgian Parlour

The Georgian parlour was designed and built as part of a huge convent-wide building project in the late 18th century by Mother Superior Ann Aspinal. Important visitors such as bishops and local dignitaries were welcomed here, along with parents hoping to enroll their daughters in our
prestigious boarding school. Many well-known Catholic families sat in this parlour to arrange the enrolment of their daughters, including the Fairfaxes – you can still visit their house on Castlegate.

The Garden

There has been a garden here since the house was first established in 1686- in fact there were three.
The rear of the property was extensively landscaped and enjoyed regularly by the sisters and pupils at the school.
The surrounds have been developed over the generations, but a lovely garden does remain that people can enjoy as part of the café or just to visit. This was originally known as the ‘little garden’ and was described as ‘a garden of more profit’ by one of the sisters in the 1735 as it was used to grow the fruit and vegetables for the house and to sell as well as housing livestock in the late c18th.