Bar Convent Museum, Library and Gallery, York

The Bar Convent Museum outlines the early history of Christianity in the North of England and tells the story of Mary Ward, foundress of a religious congregation formerly known as the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and now renamed the Congregation of Jesus. She was a pioneer both of women's education and apostolic religious orders for women.

Her fascinating life story is told in a series of 50 pictures, which are reproduced in the Museum. They illustrate her search for a way to serve God, the Church and her countrymen and women, in a period of religious persecution and wars in Europe. Mary died in 1645 during the Civil War in England, but after her death her companions continued her work.

The design of the beautiful Bar Convent Chapel is displayed in the Museum and further information about the chapel can be found on our History page.
The Bar Convent Gallery is equipped to display exhibitions from a wide range of interests. A 45 minute video (spoken by Dame Judi Dench) covering the history of the Bar Convent is available for viewing. Collections, displays of art or ceramics are held from time to time. Interested parties should contact the Bar Convent.

The Crucifixion by Eustache Le Soeur (1616/17:1665) was sold to the National Gallery in 1994 for the support of the Bar Convent. A copy is on display in the Gallery.

The Bar Convent's extensive archives and library together form a Catholic Study and Research Centre.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Museum & Convent Tours:
Monday to Friday at 10:30 and 14:30 except for Bank Holidays.
Closed Bank Holidays, throughout Easter and 20 December - 3 January.
Large groups should phone and book in advance.

Admission charges

Admission to the Museum, Gallery and Chapel is FREE to all visitors.

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days: The Bar Convent

  • 11 — 12 September 2015

The Bar Convent in York is England's oldest living convent, home to an unbroken community of sisters whose history reaches back three centuries. Today, our gorgeous Grade I Listed Georgian buildings house an award-winning Cafe, Garden, Guest House and, brand new for Autumn 2015, our existing museum has been replaced with a state-of-the-art, multi-million-pound Exhibition, exploring three hundred years of history in York. Visitors will also be able to browse our brand new gift shop for souvenirs and gifts.

Discover the story of secrets and spies, angry mobs and Luftwaffe bombs. Be inspired by the bravery of radical Yorkshire nun and educational pioneer Mary Ward, whose fiery dedication took her on foot across the Alps - twice. Visit our beautiful 18th century Hidden Chapel and peer inside an original priest hole, then enjoy a light lunch, coffee or cake in our tranquil garden.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Bar Convent Museum, Library and Gallery, York
The Bar Convent
17 Blossom Street
North Yorkshire
YO24 1AQ




01904 643 238

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.