Elstow is a picturesque village 2 miles to the south of Bedford. The old part of the village dates from pre-Norman times and bears the hallmarks of a typical English village, centred around a Church (Elstow Abbey), a Village Green, a High Street and a Pub (The Red Lion).
Elstow's main claim to fame is as the birthplace of John Bunyan (1628-1688), an English writer and evangelical preacher best remembered as the author of The Pilgrim's Progress which he wrote during 12 years of imprisonment in Bedford jail. In all, he published nearly sixty titles, many of them expanded sermons.
On the village green stands the Moot Hall, a timber-framed building erected in the 15th century to provide both a courtroom and a market house.
Elstow Abbey was founded in 1078 as a Benedictine nunnery by Judith, niece of William the Conqueror. The Abbesses of Elstow held the title of Lord of the Manor and acted as local magistrates, hence their need for the courtroom which, in the case of Moot Hall, was located in the main upper room.
The Elstow nuns came from wealthy families and each came with an endowment of money and/or lands. In 1538 it was valued as one of the richest nunneries in England before being surrendered to King Henry VIII as part of his Dissolution of the Monasteries.
This website contains information about Elstow Parish Council but there are many links to Elstow-related places, organisations and information – click on LINKS under Parish Items above