Copy of oil portrait of John Bunyan by Thomas Sadler.
(Original in the National Portrait Gallery, London)
IN BEDFORD (5 miles away)
Bunyan Museum and Bunyan Meeting Free Church
The museum celebrates the life and work of our famous local author John Bunyan writer of The Pilgrim's Progress amongst his 60 published works.
*Parts of The Pilgrims Progress are thought to be based on the various landscapes of Stevington including the mediaeval cross in the centre of the vilalge and the Holy Well down below the Church. Kathy invited Clare Balding to join her on BBC Radio 4's Rambling to walk the literary landscape around the village and it was aired in May 2002. The Cross, the Sepulchre/Spring, House Beautiful, Echo Valley are among various associations which can be drawn with the village. We have the Bunyan Trail now the Ouse Valley Way passing through the villlage and along the river bank.
Bedford Embankment Garden besides the river Ouse is beautifully landscaped and close to Bedford Museum which is well worth a visit too see www.bedfordmuseum.org
Elstow village where Johnn Bunyan lived are nearby with the ruins of the Abbey, the village Church and Moot Hall also in the vicinity. Access for a visit can be arranged.
Sights in Stevington
- The Mediaeval Cross in the centre of the village
- The Holy Well below the Church with its stream of crystal clear water
- The Blue Bell Wood along the footpath by the river Ouse to Pavenham
- St Mary the Virgin Church down Church Road has Saxon origins
- The Baptist Church at West End Stevington has its origins in 1655
- Ramblers will really enjoy the quiet walks along the many village footpaths including -:
- *The Bunyan Trail, now Ouse Valley Way passes through the village from Oakley to Pavenham.
- The Stevington Country Walk along the old railway line from Bedford to Northampton with extensive views over the valley and windmill.
In Olney (7 miles away)
The Cowper and Newton Museum with Garden
The museum is in Olney, Buckinghamshire, UK, and is easy to find! It's a large brick building on the corner of historic Olney's Market Place, a few miles north of central Milton Keynes. You can explore the house and gardens where 18th century poet William Cowper lived and worked, and find out about the town's history in the Olney Rooms of the museum. A short walk around the corner will take you to the Vicarage where Cowper's friend John Newton wrote 'Amazing Grace', the church where he preached, and the grave where he and his wife are buried.
William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper") (1731-1800) was the leading poet of his day, and one of the greatest letter writers in English. Many of his poems and letters talk of the house, gardens and personal belongings you can see in the museum. Visiting it will give you a vivid sense of everyday life in a country town in the late 1700s.
Rev. John Newton (1725-1807), who began his career as a seafarer and slave trader, eventually became a famous London preacher and spiritual mentor to William Wilberforce, the abolitionist. See the display evoking the horrors of the slave trade and illustrating the campaign for its abolition.
Olney - you could make the museum your starting point for a day out in Olney. The town is full of attractive shops and eating places, and you can walk along the Ouse
The Cowper and Newton Museum and Garden,
Tel/Fax: 01234 711516
The Old Hospitium, origins date back to 1150s so that pilgrims could bathe their eyes in the Holy Well was still standing in John Bunyans life and could have been the inspiration for House Beautiful 'a house for the relief of pilgrims'. It is the site of the Manor House Gardens. see History of the Manor House
The Holy Well beneath the Church
The Blue Bell Wood along the footpath to Pavenham
Stevington Windmill is the last surviving windmill in Bedfordshire. It was built in the 18th century and was still in use as recently as 1939. It later fell into disuse and disrepair but was eventually bought by Bedfordshire County Council and restored as a contribution towards the Festival of Britain in 1951. It is the only fully restored windmill in Bedfordshire.
The whole building, essentially a box mounted on a wooden pole, has to be turned by hand to face the wind by using a long pole which sticks out behind, called the tail-pole. The leverage provided by this pole, together with the careful balancing of the structure, allowed a single man to move the entire building using his shoulders against a yoke on the tail
pole. This arrangement is the earliest design of windmill known and dates back to medieval times.
The windmill is free to view externally. It is also possible to obtain a key
from The Royal George pub in the village which gives entry to the building itself.
IN ODELL (5 miles away)
Peter Bulkeley left as vicar of the parish of Odell in 1635 fleeing from Archbishop Laud. He took his children to found Concord near Boston in Massachussetts. The Wheeler family and the Odells also went with him, all part of his congregation. His sisters, various neices and nephews also went to the New World.