Statue of John Bunyan, Bedford - St Peter's Green, Bedford, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 52° 08.328 W 000° 28.001
30U E 673361 N 5779502
The John Bunyan statue is located at St Peter's Green at the junction with St Peter's Street and The Broadway. "The Pilgrim's Progress" was Bunyan's most famous work.
Waymark Code: WMQM50
Location: Eastern England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 03/01/2016
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member veritas vita
Views: 2

Wikipedia has an article about the John Bunyan statue that tells us:

The Statue of John Bunyan on St Peter's Green, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England is a bronze statue of John Bunyan. the statue was sculpted by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, it was erected in 1874, and unveiled on 10 June of that year. The statue was commissioned by the Ninth Duke of Bedford (who also commissioned the bronze reliefs on the doors of the Bunyan Meeting Free Church) and presented by him to Bedford town.

The statue stands at the south-western corner of St Peter's Green, facing down Bedford's High Street. The site was selected by Boehm for its significance as a crossroads, and faces symbolically the site of his imprisonment. A ring of bollards, connected by chains protect the base of the statue. A controlled crossing has resulted in the erection of a set of traffic lights extremely close to the statue.

John Bunyan (1628-1688) was an English Christian writer and religious dissident, who was born, and lived in Bedfordshire and was twice imprisoned in Bedford County Gaol.

Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, Baronet (1834–1890) was a medallist and sculptor, born in Vienna to Hungarian parents. While several of Boehm's colossal statues are considered important, notably the statue of Queen Victoria he is certainly famous for the Bunyan piece. Boehm was later commissioned to produce the sarcophagus for Arthur Stanley, who addressed the guests at the unveiling ceremony, and was husband of Augusta Stanley who unveiled the Bunyan statue. He was responsible for the statue of the Duchess of Bedford in the park at Woburn Abbey.

Francis Charles Hastings Russell, Duke of Bedford (1819–1891) was an English nobleman, active in politics and agriculture, as well as the civic life of Bedford.

The Duke of Bedford had been active in civic life, and proposed the donation of the statue two years before the unveiling, when opening the Bedford Corn Exchange.

Two years later, in 1876, he donated the doors to the Bunyan Meeting House. The doors contain ten bas-relief panels, illustrating, like the panels on the base of the Bedford statue, scenes from the Pilgrims Progress. The design of the doors is based on the Gates of Paradise, by Ghiberti in the Battistero di San Giovanni in Florence. The Bunyan doors were executed by Fredrick Thrupp (1812-1895), in copper on bronze.

The unveiling was a major event, called the Bunyan Celebration (or the Bunyan Festival), attended by people from across the United Kingdom, from the then colonies and from America. The day was treated as a holiday by all the nearby villages and Bunyan's birthplace, Elstow. Locally invitations went to all Sunday Schools, totalling 3,380 children who consumed a ton and a quarter of cake.

The statue was unveiled by Lady Augusta Stanley, wife of the then Dean of Westminster, Arthur Stanley, on Wednesday 10 June 1874, before a crowd of 10,000, presided over by the Mayor of Bedford (Alderman George Hurst). (Brown remarks that Augusta Stanley, as a Bruce of Elgin, was a direct descendent of the "noblemen who persecuted Bunyan and his people.") Sermons were preached, the church bells rung and a fire-work display was given.

The Dean of Westminster said in his address, at the celebration:

Every one of you who has not read The Pilgrim's Progress, if there be any such person, read it without delay: those who have read it a hundred times, read it for the hundred and first time. Follow out in your lives the lesson which The Pilgrim's Progress teaches, and then you will all of you be even better monuments of John Bunyan than this magnificent statue which the Duke of Bedford has given you.

The celebration was also addressed by Francis Cowper, 7th Earl Cowper, Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, the member of Parliament (Samuel Whitbread), and Dr Brock and Dr Allon representing the Non-conformist movement.

In the evening a lecture on the life and works of Bunyan was given by Rev. C. M. Birrell of Liverpool, in the Bunyan Meeting House.

An exhibition of Bunyan relics, including Bunyan's will (now housed in the John Bunyan Museum) was on display in the hall of the Corn Exchange. The Mayor entertained seventy guests at a banquet.

The event was covered by much of the press including Daily News of the following day, and the Illustrated London News of 20 June, and documented in The Book of the Bunyan Festival, edited by William Howie Wylie.

Bunyan is depicted in a two and a half ton bronze cloaked figure, preaching from an open Bible, to an invisible congregation, with a broken fetter representing his imprisonment by his left foot. The pose is reminiscent of one of the figures in the picture in the house of the Interpreter the Pilgrim's Progress, "...it had eyes uplift to Heaven, the best of Books in his hand, the law of Truth was written upon his lips...".

The figure, which incorporates a substantial base inscribed "John Bunyan" stands on a square plinth of Aberdeen granite. There are three bronze relief scenes from the Pilgrim's Progress set in the plinth: Christian at the wicket gate; his fight with Apollyon; and losing his burden at the foot of the cross of Jesus.

The Great Site website tells us about John Bunyan:

John Bunyan – An Overview

John Bunyan had very little schooling. He followed his father in the tinker's trade, and he served in the parliamentary army from1644 to 1647). Bunyan married in 1649 and lived in Elstow until 1655, when his wife died. He then moved to Bedford, and married again in 1659. John Bunyan was received into the Baptist church in Bedford by immersion in 1653.

In 1655, Bunyan became a deacon and began preaching, with marked success from the start. In 1658 he was indicted for preaching without a license. The authorities were fairly tolerant of him for a while, and he did not suffer imprisonment until November of 1660, when he was taken to the county jail in Silver Street, Bedford, and there confined (with the exception of a few weeks in 1666) for 12 years until January 1672. Bunyan afterward became pastor of the Bedford church. In March of 1675 he was again imprisoned for preaching publicly without a license, this time being held in the Bedford town jail. In just six months this time he was freed, (no doubt the authorities were growing weary of providing Bunyan with free shelter and food) and he was not bothered again by the authorities.

Herein is a great controversy. As John Bunyan was married with children to support, and he could have walked out of the jail a free man at any time if he simply promised to stop preaching publicly without a license, one must ask if he really did the right thing. He was not asked to deny Christ or to recant his faith as the Protestant martyrs of a century earlier were. Indeed, many of those around him were openly Christians who shared his faith. Bunyan was simply asked to stop preaching without a license, or to move on. Should Bunyan have simply agreed and walked out of the jail and gone home to fulfill his duties before God as a husband and father? Or did he do the right thing in making those duties secondary to his personal conviction that he should be allowed to preach in that city without a license? Bunyan was not a martyr, nor was he ever violently persecuted, but his convictions, whether admirable or misplaced, were quite strong and vexed the local authorities who viewed him more as a troublemaker than any real threat.

On a trip to London, John Bunyan caught a severe cold, and he died at the house of a friend at Snow Hill on August 31, 1688. His grave lies in the cemetery at Bunhill Fields in London.

The Pilgrim's Progress

John Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim's Progress in two parts, of which the first appeared at London in 1678, which he had begun during his imprisonment in 1676. The second part appeared in 1684. The earliest edition in which the two parts were combined in one volume came out in 1728. A third part falsely attributed to Bunyan appeared in 1693. “The Pilgrim's Progress” is the most successful allegory ever written, and like the Bible has been extensively translated into other languages. Protestant missionaries commonly translated it as the first thing after the Bible. It is said that in the days of westward expansion in the United States, early settlers often owned only two books, one being the Bible, and the other being John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

John Bunyan wrote many other books, including one which discussed his inner life and reveals his preparation for his appointed work is “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners” (1666). Bunyan became a popular preacher as well as a very voluminous author, though most of his works consist of expanded sermons. In theology he was a Puritan, but not a partisan. He was no scholar, except of the English Bible, but that he knew thoroughly. He also drew much influence from Martin Luther's “Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians”.

Some time before his final release from prison Bunyan became involved in a controversy with two theologians of his day: Kiffin and Paul. In 1673 he published his Differences in Judgement about Water-Baptism no Bar to Communion, in which he took the ground that "the Church of Christ hath not warrant to keep out of the communion the Christian that is discovered to be a visible saint of the word, the Christian that walketh according to his own light with God." While he agreed as a Baptist that water baptism was God's ordinance, he refused to make "an idol of it," and he disagreed with those who would dis-fellowship from Christians who did not adhere to water baptism.

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