The story of The Bar Convent begins with a secret.

In 1686, a time of great danger for all Catholics in England, a woman named Frances Bedingfield purchased a small parcel of land just outside York's walls. She signed the deed under an alias. The ladies who then lived and worked beneath the building's dull slate roof wore slate-coloured gowns, and called themselves the 'Ladies of the Bar'.

Nobody knew the truth they concealed. For the early sisters of The Bar Convent, discovery meant punishment - and even death.

Over the three centuries that followed, the Community were no strangers to strife. Their home has been at times a school, a hospital ward, a refuge and a bomb-site, emerging into the present day in its current guise: the Living Heritage Centre. Every corner of the building has a tale to tell.

Our state-of-the-art Exhibition will inspire you with the story of the Bar Convent.

Discover three hundred years of history and the remarkable people who have shaped it. Meet the radical Yorkshire nun and pioneer Mary Ward, whose devotion to her cause took her on foot across the Alps - twice. Learn about secrets and spies, angry mobs and Luftwaffe bombs. Hide yourself away inside a priest hole - then find out how to hide an entire chapel.


Adults: £6
Concessions: £4
Children (6-15): £2
Under-6s: Free

Family Tickets (2 Adults and 2 Children): £10
Plus One Extra Child: £1

When booked with us in advance, under-16s on educational visits (i.e. studying a related topic in school) can visit the exhibition for only 50p per pupil. We also offer group rates to larger parties.

  • Open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm
  • Explore the fascinating history of York and the Bar Convent
  • Interactive, state-of-the-art displays
  • School visits and booked groups are welcome
Click to enlarge images and view gallery
The Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre
The story of the Bar Convent short film
Mary Ward's life in pictures
A place of secrecy and spies
Discover the story of Mary Ward
Discover the history of the Bar Convent