12th May 2022

Join Our Team!

To apply, or for more information, please email reception@bar-convent.org.uk.

Experienced Breakfast Chef

  • Hours of work: Sundays, 7am-11am. Additional seasonal hours will also be offered for holiday cover reasons.
  • Job Type: Part-time, Permanent
  • Salary: £20p/h

Experienced Kitchen Assistant

  • Hours of work: Saturdays, 7am – 3pm. Other additional seasonal hours will also be offered for holiday cover reasons.
  • Job Type: Part-time, Permanent
  • Salary: £9.50p/h


1st December 2021

Mary Ward: First Sister of Feminism by Sydney Thorne

On Saturday 27th November, visitors braved the winds and weather to attend the launch of a brand new biography of Mary Ward, foundress of the order to which the Bar Convent sisters belong.

Sydney Thorne, a local York author, joined us at the convent to sign copies of his book Mary Ward – First Sister of Feminism, published by Pen and Sword. Mary Ward’s vision was a surprisingly modern one: schools for girls as good as those for boys. Her views proved controversial for the time in which she lived, leading to persecution both from outside the church and from within it. She was even imprisoned for a time by the Inquisition. Nevertheless she persevered, and the order of religious women she established went on to set up schools for girls all over Europe – including the Bar Convent, founded here in York in 1686.

“The book will, I think, delight readers who are looking for an inspirational true story about a courageous woman,” says Sydney Thorne. “While respecting Mary Ward’s religious faith and mission, I have cut back on the religious terminology. This book makes Mary Ward accessible to a wider, modern audience, and places her firmly in the history section of the bookshop.”

Mary Ward – First Sister of Feminism is available to buy from the Bar Convent Gift Shop.

You can also order a copy online from the Pen and Sword website.


27th April 2021

Historic Collection from St Mary’s School

Ahead of our reopening on Monday 17th May, we’re pleased to share that a collection of significant historic artefacts have recently been donated to us by St Mary’s School, Shaftesbury.

A highlight of the collection is a stunning Eastertide painting which was originally a centrepiece at the Shaftesbury Chapel. This specially commissioned painting depicts the Virgin Mary surrounded by vibrant angels. On her crown are the words ‘Regina Celi Letare’, which translates to ‘Queen of Heaven, Rejoice’. It is believed that the painting was specially commissioned by Sister Gregory, then headmistress of St Mary’s School, as part of the build of the Chapel in the 1960s. In her later years, Sister Gregory came to the Bar Convent – it was her vision which saw the opening of our museum, enabling the public access to the incredible collections and archives for the very first time.

The St Mary’s School collection also includes ornaments, photographs, letters and hand-written account books, along with other paintings. Plans are underway to fund a cataloguing project in association with the Shaftesbury Old Girls Association.

We look forward to continuing the legacy of St Mary’s School through the preservation and research of these fascinating artefacts.

18th March 2021

Welcoming the World to Our Library

A major cataloguing project has uncovered rare and historically significant books in our library, which will soon be made available on a global database, giving our little-known collection an international profile. The project, completed with the help of Durham University, will result in the details of all c.1,800 rare books being made available for researchers on the global database Jisc Library Hub. Our reference library of c. 3,000 vols will also be catalogued and made available in digital form for the first time in history.

The research has also uncovered previously unseen documentation from a well-known 18th century Catholic book distributor, J P Coghlan, who was active from c.1750 until his death in 1800. Coghlan was responsible for the movement of thousands of Catholic books around Europe and amongst the beleaguered Catholic community in England and Wales. A full study of his surviving correspondence was published in 2007, but new letters from the London bookseller, corresponding with us in 1783, have now been discovered. This finding casts important new light on the movement of Catholic books in post-Reformation England, illuminating an international network of book distribution.

Research is currently ongoing, with plans to have the catalogue of books available on the database later in the year, and the books on display in 2022. Research visits to the historic library can be made by appointment – please email Dr Hannah Thomas, our Special Collections Manager, at hthomas@bar-convent.org.uk for more details.


26th February 2021

Mary Ward: Beyond the Painted Life – Free Digital Lecture Series

All three parts of our new digital lecture series, Mary Ward: Beyond the Painted Life, are now available on YouTube. Join Sr Patricia Harriss CJ as she examines the revolutionary faith of Mary Ward and the controversy caused by her views.

eventbrite - beyond the painted life