Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bar Convent Museum, York

Since today (as I post) is the Feast of All Saints, here's the first part of my visit to a convent in York!

Bar Convent sits just outside the medieval walls of York. It opened in 1686 as a boarding school for Catholic girls even though practicing the Catholic Faith was legally forbidden at the time. The nun hid their identity and were known locally as "the Ladies of the Bar." It remained a school for 300 years but still has an active religious community, making it the oldest living convent in the United Kingdom. They now have a museum, gift shop, guest accommodations, meeting rooms, and a cafe.

Bar Convent, York

The museum tells what life was like during the recusant period from King Henry VIII to George III, when the Catholic faith was suppressed. The main display room includes a recusant altar. The Tudor headboard has a shelf that folds down for an altar and can be quickly folded up if and when the authorities make a raid. The bed could be rolled back in place and none would be the wiser.

Display/conference room

Recusant Altar

Display on martyrs John Fisher and Thomas More

 The original 1680 house key for the convent is also on display.

Convent key

On the stairs is a series of paintings depicting the life of Mary Ward, a Catholic pioneer in women's education and founder of a religious order, the Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary Ward's life

The girls boarding at the school often did girlish things and this doll house is a toy modeled after the convent building.

Bar Convent Action Set

The museum includes a wide variety of art objects, original works and copies of other famous works, as well as some vestments and religious items.

15th century statue of the Madonna and Child

St. Cecelia statue copied from the one in the Roman catacombs

Liturgical items and dishes

Annunciation (sorry about the reflection)

Madonna and Child in the cafe

 The gardens are available for dining and provide a refuge from the busy city life.

Bar Convent garden

Tomorrow, the chapel!

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