Conservation effort, not destruction, on minds of 
Catholics at parliament

The Bar Convent needs to raise �2m to transform its visitor facilities.
The Bar Convent needs to raise �2m to transform its visitor facilities.
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MORE THAN 400 years on from the Gunpowder Plot, Catholics will today descend on the Palace of Westminster – but in an attempt to save instead of destroy a national treasure.

Members of England’s oldest surviving convent will stage a reception in the House of Commons today in the hope of attracting more support for a £2m fundraising campaign. The money will be used to transform visitor facilities at the Bar Convent, which is situated close to York’s historic Micklegate Bar.

Guests, including MPs and supporters, will learn about the £2m scheme to revamp public areas, conserve the Grade I-listed Georgian buildings and create a state-of-the-art exhibition space. A total of £750,000 has been raised since October last year, and it is hoped work could start as early as the spring before the overall target is reached next summer.

For the Bar Convent, November 5 is a particularly poignant date as Mary Ward, the founder of the Congregation of Jesus order which has been at the site since 1686, was the niece of two key conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, John and Christopher Wright. Guy Fawkes himself was born in York and educated at St Peter’s School.