THE SCHOOL of the historic Bar Convent in York, for 300 years one of the foremost Catholic independent schools in the north of England, is to go comprehensive in 1986 following the reorganisation of Catholic secondary education in the city.
Sr Agatha, Reverend Mother of the Bar Convent, described the change as an opening up and not a closing down. "We are opening our doors," she said, "so that we can share our very rich heritage."
A single new split-site Catholic comprehensive school is to be created using the facilities of the convent and of Mill Mount School. The Bar Convent houses the last remaining direct grant grammar school in the country.
The school is run by nuns of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and dates from the foundation by the Institute of their house in York in 1686. The convent is itself the oldest such post-Reformation foundation in England.
The new school will not make use of all the accommodation available in the convent's buildings and plans are in hand for the creation of the diocesan pastoral centre and a hostel for visiting children in the space.
The nuns are to move to a house and extension at 20 South Parade but they will retain responsibility for the magnificent Georgian chapel in the old convent building.
A museum of northern Christian history is also planned, of which the convent's own archives will form a significant element.
Although the connection between the convent and the new school will remain a close one the changes have come at an opportune moment for the community at the Bar.
Fewer nuns are now involved in the school and more are moving into other areas of work within the local community.