THE £2 million Living History project to modernise and upgrade visitor facilities at York's historic Bar Convent is on schedule to open this autumn.

The guesthouse area of England's oldest living convent is expected to re-open this summer with 20 improved visitor rooms in the Grade I listed building on the junction of Blossom Street and Nunnery Lane, York.

A two-storey section of the convent will house a new interactive exhibition starting in Tudor times when being a Catholic was illegal and giving the history of the 400-year-old convent, its founder Sister Mary Ward and the convent's school.

It will be fully accessible with a specially installed lift and will be formally opened in October.

Sara Chapman, of Leach, the Huddersfield visitor attraction company responsible for designing and creating the new attraction, gave members of the convent and its wider community a guided tour so they could inspect progress. The nuns still need to raise £250,000 towards the £2 million cost.

Before it began, Sister Frances Orchard, chairman of the convent trustees, said the convent was a unique place, nationally, locally and in the field of education. Sir Frances also spoke about how it will transform the convent and bring it up to date.

The nuns had to negotiate the complexities of gaining planning permission to alter a Grade I building before work began.

The project managers have had to manage a building site bounded on two sides by a busy junction, on a third by a school and on the fourth by other buildings. That has meant careful organisation and deliveries have had to be arranged to avoid lesson times.

The convent's activities have continued throughout, though the guesthouse business has been closed since March.