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Places > Elstow

Elstow Church and Tower c. 1813

1076: Elstow Abbey founded by Judith, a niece of William the Conqueror

1500: Moot Hall built (approx.)

1539: On the 26th August Elstow Abbey surrendered to Henry VIII as a result of the dissolution of the religious houses. Henry VIII initially considered maintaining the abbey as a cathedral for Bedfordshire but this plan came to nothing

1616: Elstow Abbey estate sold to Sir Thomas Hillersdon by Sir Edward Radcliffe who built a mansion out of the stone from the abbey. The ruins are still visible today.

1628: John Bunyan born in the parish of Elstow

1880-82: St. Mary's church restored and partially rebuilt by T.J. Jackson

1911: The Bedford Mercury of 20th January (p.7) records the following story.  A cow belonging to Mr Pruden was discovered to have anthrax.  Medical Officers were sent for and the body was burnt.  "Afterwards a man who had handled the body, was found also to show symptoms of this disease, but it was very slight, although he has not been able to work since the affair"

1934: Moot Hall scheduled as an ancient monument

1939- 1945: During the Second World War Elstow Storage Depot was developed as an armaments factory by J. Lyons and Co. Ltd. Work began on the site in 1939 but it was not until 1942 that armaments production began.

1951: Stone erected on the spot of Bunyan's birthplace

1951: Moot Hall restored by Bedfordshire County Council as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations

1965-1972: Elstow Abbey excavated . No traces of a preceding Saxon church were found but the excavators did find evidence of early Saxon cremation burials and Roman pottery.

1967: Stone masons repairing the east wall of Elstow Abbey church found the base of a ninth century Saxon cross shaft reused as building stone. The stone was decorated with dragons and patterns

1968: 'Bunyan's Cottage' demolished after it was felt that it was a traffic hazard on the main Bedford to Luton road.  Bunyan had lived in the cottage with his second wife Elizabeth and blind daughter Mary

1975: Bedford Rural District Council purchases a row of 13th - 17th century cottages in Elstow from the Whitbread Estate for 1.00.  Restoration work was undertaken by Chrystal and West to convert them into modern flats and maisonettes.  In addition nine bungalows were built on land at the back. While undertaking the work a number of curious features were discovered including a toilet next to a fire place that people could use without getting cold.  Dispersal was by means of a spade into the fire! (Post Echo, 6th October, 1976)

1982: Elstow Bypass opened in November by Bedford MP Trevor Skeet.  The bypass cost 2,500,000 and opened seven months ahead of schedule.  It was built by Henry Boot Civil Engineering

1986: Works started on the Abbeyfields Estate

1994: Elstow Footbridge dismantled and replaced by a new iron bridge.  The old bridge had spanned the Bedford to Bletchley railway line for the best part of 120 years

1995: Part of a late Saxon village excavated during construction of the Bedford Southern Bypass.  The main finds were post holes for eleventh century timber buildings, wells, pits and ditched farmstead enclosures (Conserving Bedfordshire Heritage, 1996, B.C.C.)

1998: Plans for a new town consisting of 4,500 homes on Elstow Storage Depot unveiled by Mid Bedfordshire District Council and Bedford Borough Council

2000: National Power and J.J. Gallagher Construction move a colony of rare great crested newts from the soon to be developed Elstow Storage Depot to Wilstead.  The newts are protected under both British and European law



Page last updated: 27th January 2014