Bar Convent Grammar School

Last Updated: 11/03/2019

Bar Convent Grammar School

A boarding school for Roman Catholic girls was opened in 1686 in the Convent of St. Mary, later known as the Bar Convent, in Blossom Street outside Micklegate Bar. This house was founded by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the education of Roman Catholic girls and was the first Roman Catholic institution for teaching girls in the country. The foundress of the convent bequeathed to the school money 'for the maintenance of those who shall employ their labour and pains in breeding up children in piety and learning' in the houses of the Institute at York and Hammersmith. A day school was opened in the convent about 1699.

Drake described the convent in 1736 as 'no more than a boarding school for young ladies of Roman Catholic families'. There were said to be between 60 and 70 pupils in the boarding school in 1818, some of whom had been sent from a 'considerable distance' for their education; the day school was described as free for the children of poor Roman Catholics. There were said to be 50 children in each of the schools in 1833. The day school was transferred to St Mary's Girls' School in 1844.

In 1870 there were 48 girls enrolled in the school some of whom were probably boarders; 20 infants were given preparatory education. In 1929 the school was recognized for direct grant; at this time about half the pupils were boarders. The school infirmary was destroyed by enemy action in 1942. After the Second World War the accommodation was doubled by the addition of 7 classrooms, a laboratory, a needlework room, and a dining-room. In 1954 there were 321 girls enrolled in the school and 16 boys in the preparatory department. There were 4 girls boarding in the school in 1957.


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