The Bar Convent

A brand new exhibition at England's oldest living convent in the heart of York

The Brief

Leach were appointed by The Bar Convent in York to create a new visitor experience in England’s oldest living convent.

The Living Heritage Centre project transforms the building with a brand new exhibition, plus gift shop, renovated guesthouse and improved facilities.

The exhibition tells the remarkable history of the Convent with the wider context of the city of York and county of Yorkshire. It aims to share the narrative, experiences and motivations of people connected with The Bar Convent, past and present.

Much of the story concentrates on Mary Ward, pioneer of the first non-cloistered religious order of women.

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Leach's Role Included:

  • Project Management
  • Interpretive Planning
  • Exhibition Development Planning
  • Image and Text Research
  • Audio/Visual Design
  • Space Planning and Story Mapping
  • Wayfinding Audit and Design
  • 3D Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration
  • Artefact Mount Design and Manufacture
  • Artefact Case Manufacture
  • Artefact Placement
  • Prototyping
  • Off Site Build
  • Site Management
  • Installation


The Result

Secrets, spies, hidden religion, worldwide missions, remarkable women!

Leach wanted to create a new visitor experience that challenged preconceptions and appealed to modern audiences. This was achieved by telling the stories of The Bar Convent through unexpected and engaging interpretation, bringing the work of Mary Ward to life through the words of those who have followed her to this day.

Shhh…. Listen to the whispers, hide in the priesthole, peer into secret keyholes and unlock the stories of The Bar Convent. Wind the handle on the magic lantern to learn about the hidden history of the Convent through an emotive, animated film narrated by actress Joanna David.

Upstairs, a moving series of documentary style films features members of the Congregation of Jesus telling visitors about their continuing mission work across the world today.

Prepare to be amazed!

“I am hugely relieved that I chose the Leach team, I had very high expectations and they exceeded them…”

- James Foster, General Manager, The Bar Convent

 Visit The Bar Convent


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