John Bunyan was born in Harrowden, near Elstow, Bedfordshire in 1628; an engraved stone in a field marks the spot where his house was. Bunyan lived a rather ungodly life as he grew up; in his own words he says ‘I had but few equals for cursing, swearing, lying and blaspheming the Holy name of God.’
His parents sent Bunyan to school, but he learnt little more than how to read and write. Being a poor tinker’s son he would have gone to a local school and received only a rudimentary education. There are reports of schools in the area having masters who neglected their charges shamefully at the time Bunyan was a boy. He himself says, ‘I never went to school to Aristotle or Plato, but was brought up at my father’s house in a very mean condition, among a company of poor countrymen.’ His education did not last long because he needed to help his family bring in some income so he became a tinker under his father.
From Bedford take the A600 south towards Shelford. After a couple of miles take the A421 and after around 500 yards you will see a signpost on the right to Harrowden. Turn right there and go to the end of the road where you will find a farm; park where you can but make sure you do not get in the way of farm vehicles. The road turns to the right; go down about 100 yards and you will see a river on the left and the entrance to a walkway. Be very careful as you climb over as the wood is very unsafe. Walk along the river along the edge of the field and proceed until you are at the other end of the field. Just the other side of the hedge; in the corner of the next field is this plaque that marks the site of Bunyan's birthplace.