Elstow (St. Mary and St. Helen)
ELSTOW (St. Mary and St. Helen), a parish, in the hundred of Redborne-stoke, union and county of Bedford, 1¼ mile (S. by W.) from Bedford; containing 562 inhabitants. This place was distinguished for an abbey founded in the reign of William the Conqueror, by his niece Judith, Countess of Huntingdon, for nuns of the Benedictine order, and which flourished till the Dissolution, when the society consisted of an abbess and 21 nuns, and its revenue was £325. 2. 1. The parish comprises by measurement 1600 acres; the soil is partly dry and gravelly, and partly clayey. Fairs for cattle are held on the 14th of May and 5th of November, each for two days. The living is a perpetual curacy, valued in the king's books at £7. 9.; net income, £75; patron and impropriator, W. H. Whitbread, Esq. The church, originally the church of the abbey, and now the only remaining portion of that establishment, is a stately structure in the Norman style, with a detached tower on the north side. John Bunyan, author of the Pilgrim's Progress, was born here.