infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 52.10696
official_name= Elstow
shire_district= Bedford
shire_county = Bedfordshire
region= East of England
post_town= BEDFORD|postcode_district = MK42
postcode_area= MK
dial_code= 01234
os_grid_reference= TL052465

static_image_caption = Elstow Moot Hall

Elstow is a village and civil parish in the English county of Bedfordshire. Elstow is often credited as the birthplace of John Bunyan, though he was actually born in the nearby hamlet of Harrowden.


William the Conqueror granted Elstow to his niece, Countess Judith, who founded a nunnery in 1075. In the Middle Ages Elstow Abbey was one of the richest Benedictine nunneries in England. The abbess and nuns held Elstow until the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII. The abbey survives in part as the parish church of St Mary and St Helena.

The Saunderson Tractor and Implement Co. was founded in Elstow in 1890. They were one of the biggest tractor makers by the time of the First World War. [Classic tractors by M.Williams ISBN 978-0-7537-1446-1] They were latter re named as the Bedford Plough and Engineering co.

Elstow today

The village and the northern part of the parish are inside Bedford's southern bypass, and Elstow has increasing been absorbed into Bedford since the late 20th century. The largest population centre in the parish nowadays is not Elstow village itself, but a large housing development dating from the first few years of the 21st century called Abbeyfields, which is effectively a suburb of Bedford.

Elstow Moot Hall

Elstow Moot Hall (or the Green House as it was formerly known) was built in the 15th century as a market-house and used for storing the stalls and other equipment in connection with the village fairs. The Tudor timber-framed building was also used as a place for hearing and settling disputes arising from the fair. In the 19th century the upper room was used both as a school and a place of worship.

The hall was restored by Bedfordshire County Council in the 1970s and is now a museum illustrating 17th century English life and tradition with particular reference to John Bunyan. The main feature of the village, is the Moot Hall which stands in isolation on the village green.


External links

* [http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/moothall Official Moot Hall Elstow site]
* [http://www.elstow.ik.com/ Elstow Parish council]
* [http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/BDF/Elstow/ genuki.org] – historical information about Elstow
* [http://www.bedford.gov.uk/Default.aspx/Web/ElstowVillage Elstow Village page from Bedford Borough Council]
* [http://www.bedford.gov.uk/Default.aspx/Web/ElstowMootHall Elstow Moot Hall page from Bedford Borough Council]
* [http://www.elstow-abbey.org.uk/index.html Elstow Abbey]
* [http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Elstow&w=all Flickr images tagged Elstow]
* [http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/Elstow/ElstowIndexOfPages.aspx Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service: Elstow pages]

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