In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Elstow like this:
ELSTOW, a village and a parish in the district and county of Bedford. The village stands on a branch of the river Ouse, near the Bedford branch of the North-western railway, 1¾ mile S by W of Bedford; and has a post office under Bedford, and fairs on 15 May and 5 Nov. A Benedictine nunnery was founded here, in the time of William the Conqueror, by Judith, the Conqueror's niece, the Countess of Huntingdon; is said to have been very beautiful; and was called Helenstow, ultimately Elstow. ...
John Bunyan, the author of the Pilgrim's Progress, was a native of this village; and his cottage, in a renovated condition is still standing. The parish comprises 1, 522 acres. Real property, £3, 187. Pop., 618. Houses, 118. The property is all in one estate. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely. Value, £75. Patron, S.Whitbread, Esq. The church belonged to the nunnery; is Norman, with a steeple; has two brasses of 1427 and 1530; and includes a chapter-house. There are an Independent chapel, and charities £45.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Elstow has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Bedford. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Elstow and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Elstow, in Bedford and Bedfordshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 30th July 2015
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