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The Bar Convent Museum - Mary Ward Display
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Bar Convent Trust
Registered Charity 294320
17 Blossom Street, York,
North Yorkshire, YO24 1AQ

Latest News

We have exciting plans for development of the Museum into a state-of-the-art exhibition for the 21st century. 
Find out more...


The Bar Convent Museum includes the Victorian Entrance Hall, the Museum on the ground and first floors, the Parlour and the Chapel.

The Museum itself is housed in the 19th century buildings of the Day School.  A guide leaflet is available from Reception.   A 45 minute video (narrated by Dame Judi Dench) at the entrance to the museum covers the history of the Bar Convent and introduces the collections. 

The ground floor displays tell the history of the early recusant period from Henry VIII to Elizabeth, including the story of the York martyr, Margaret Clitherow. The displays include recusant artefacts such as a "pedlar's vestment" used by itinerant priests and a secret altar disguised as a bedstead. There are also other items about martyrdom and persecution relating to famous local people: martyrs such as Margaret Clitherow and conspirators such as Guy Fawkes.  This is the background to the story of Mary Ward, the remarkable Yorkshire woman who founded the Congregation of Jesus and its sister branch, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary Ward (1585-1645) was a pioneer both of women's education and apostolic religious orders for women. Her fascinating life story is told in the displays on the ground and first floor.  A series of fifty 17th century pictures on the staircase 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. After her death in 1645, Mary Ward’s companions continued her work.  

The upstairs Gallery hosts a static exhibition of religious artefacts, vestments, paintings and items from the convent's 300 year history as a school. The displays include copies of documents from the archives, a dolls’ house replica of the convent in the Regency period, made by Sr Gregory Kirkus cj, and a copy of the Crucifixion by Eustache Le Sueur (1616 -1655), which was sold to the National Gallery in 1994. The architectural design and development of the beautiful neoclassical Chapel and the Georgian school buildings are also outlined in the Museum. 

There are plans to update the Museum and an Appeal is in process. A generous donation from the Pilgrim Trust, with matching funds from the CJ, has enabled some conservation work to be carried out in 2011.  All Donations large and small are welcome, and Gift Aid is a great help.  Please see the Receptionist if you would like to contribute. .

Guided Group Tours can be arranged Monday to Friday between 10:00am and 3:30pm. Find out more about the Tour Packages available for your group.  All tours must be booked in advance please. Please call the Meeting & Events
Co-ordinator on 01904 464907 to make arrangements.

The Museum is closed on Bank Holidays, including the Easter weekend, and from 20 December to 3 January.


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