A secret chapter in York’s history is recalled in a remarkable exhibition this summer.
It dates back to the time when Catholicism was outlawed.
In defiance of the law, the Bar Convent on Blossom Street built a hidden convent in 1769 and held the first of many illegal masses there.
Now, the three priest vestments designed and worn for that first mass are going on display together in the chapel for the first time in 254 years.
The Bar Convent was first established in 1686. The chapel was built in complete secrecy and took 20 years to complete.
The first mass was held on 29 April 1769 and the vestments were only worn together in the chapel on that occasion.
Since then, one vestment has been on display in the Bar Convent’s exhibition, but the remaining two have been in the possession of different churches – until now.
- The display will take place from August 3 to 5
- Please note, on August 5 the chapel is only open from 2pm-5pm
- Private view: Thursday 3 August, 5.30pm- 7pm, £15 – includes an introduction to the history of the house and the vestments by Dr Hannah Thomas and glass of fizz
- Find out more on the Bar Convent website
The display at the UK’s oldest living convent is part of the York Georgian Festival.
Dr Hannah Thomas, “Historically, these three vestments have been lent to different churches in the city, and it has taken some time to arrange for their return to their original home.
“These incredibly significant vestments were designed and made as a set specifically for the opening of this very special chapel and we are both thrilled and moved to be able to share this historic reunion with the public.
“The vestments will be displayed behind the altar in the chapel where they were first worn together more than 250 years ago, at great risk to the priests and all those who attended.
“Not only have these Georgian vestments survived a time in which Catholic material was regularly seized and destroyed, but the fact that the chapel and the convent have also survived against all the odds is an incredible story that we will be highlighting as part of the inaugural York Georgian Festival 2023.”
The display will take place from August 3 to 5. Please note, on August 5 the chapel is only open from 2pm-5pm
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