Tuesday, July 22, 2008
JOHN BUNYAN and ELSTOW
John Bunyan was a 17th Century preacher, born in Elstow village and baptised and married in Elstow Abbey. Bunyan was imprisoned in Bedford Gaol for his beliefs and in 1678 he wrote Pilgrim's Progress, the most widely read book in the world after the Bible. This stained glass window in the Bunyan Meeting Free Church became famous during Terry Waite's imprisonment in the Middle East when a Bedford resident sent him this photograph on a postcard - and it arrived safely.
Elstow Abbey was a Benedictine Nunnery founded by Countess Judith, a niece of William the Conqueror in 1078 and became Elstow Abbey Church in 1539 after the Dissolution of the Nunnery in 1539 by Henry VIII. His Seal is still in the Abbey.
I represent Elstow and Wilstead on Bedfordshire County and Bedford Borough Councils. I am also Chairman of the Trustees of the Friends of Elstow Abbey, who have raised £37,000 in 12 years towards Abbey repairs. We have just donated 2,000 towards organ repairs and plan to run a Music Festival starting on Saturday 1 November with a Concert by the Flitwick Singers, a Christmas Concert by Hitchin Town Band on Monday 1December and an Organ Recital on Saturday 31 January.
Another historic Elstow building is the 15th Century Moot Hall, built on Elstow Green as a Market House. It houses many John Bunyan artifacts, including the door of the County Gaol where Bunyan was imprisoned and a 16th Century living room.
Every year we have Elstow May Fair on Elstow Green. This year the Fair was opened by Nadine Dorries, our local MP and hosted by our Patron, Charles Whitbread and me. The large crowds made good use of the new wooden Elstow May Fair bench, donated by Bedford Borough Council and myself and installed in time for the 2008 May Fair.