History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The other major feature of historic interest inside the church is the vestry, located in the south wesrt corner. This remarkable chamber dates from the 13th century, with a lovely stone-vaulted roof supported on a central pillar, like a cathedral chapter house. This chamber was originally a cellar, or perhaps a small parlour for the Abbess of Elstow.
I've already mentioned the detatched tower, but there are several other interesting things to look for outside the church. Facing the tower, set in the north wall of the church is an exact replica of the original Norman doorway. While the doorway is late Victorian, it has a Norman tympanum dated to 11th century. The tympanum carving shows Christ giving a blessing, flanked by St Peter and St John. A small blocked doorwa just opposite the tower has a piece of its original medieval door. This is traditionally said to be Bunyan's 'Wicket Gate', used by Christian.
In the early 17th century the abbey buildings were lying in ruins, and the lord of Elstow, Thomas Hillersdon, used the stone to build a manor house to the south west of the church. That house itself is now in ruins, but there is a very nicely carved Elizabethan entrance arch still standing amid crumbling walls.
Address: Church End, Elstow, Bedfordshire, England, MK42 9XT
Attraction Type: Abbey
Location: just south of Bedford, off the A6
OS: TL048 474
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
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Bedford Castle - 1.4 miles (Castle)
Higgins Art Gallery & Museum - 1.5 miles (Museum)
St. Peter de Merton - 1.9 miles (Historic Church)
Bedford School Chapel - 2.3 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Elstow: