John Bunyan (1628-1688): His Life, Times, and Work

By John Brown; Frank Mott Harrison | Go to book overview

XVI
BUNYAN'S LAST DAYS.

DURING the memorable years, over which we have been passing, Bunyan lived on in the parish of St. Cuthbert. This parish, situate on the east side of the town, was very small in extent, having in it only ten families in the reign of Elizabeth, and, according to the Hearth Tax roll of 1673-4, forty-seven families in the time of Bunyan. Even in 1665, the Plague year, when the mortality in some of the Bedford parishes was considerable, the deaths in St. Cuthbert's from all causes were only two. Bunyan's house stood in what was then the common street of the parish, now called St. Cuthbert's Street. It was a plain homely structure, which was unfortunately taken down in 1838 to make way for the two commonplace cottages standing opposite to the house known as The Cedars. The room to the right of the doorway was a narrow apartment, known as John Bunyan's parlour, the fireplace of which had for the upper bar of the grate a steelyard stamped with the letters J. B. On the other side of the entrance was the living room of the family, which was much larger; there was also a small apartment spoken of as the study, and in the garden behind there was an outbuilding which seemed as if it had been used as a workshop.1

* John Bagford
was a book
seller and
printer ( 1650-
1715), who col
lected books on
commission for
the trade and
private buyers.
He also made
up imperfect
copies from
title-pages and
portions of
books he came
across: pos
sibly frag
ments salved
from the Great
Fire. Vide Plomer's Dictionary of Booksellers and Printers; and The Remains of Thomas Hearne, by Philip Bliss, vol. ii., p. 157

The only known contemporary reference to Bunyan's residence here is found in the diary of Thomas Hearne, the well-known antiquary, where he says: "I heard Mr. Bagford,* some time before he died, say that he walked once into the country, on

____________________
1
These particulars were furnished by Mr. William Blower, of Bedford, who as a medical man had known the house for several years.

-357-

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