Culture & Heritage

Bedford has a rich and varied history. It was originally founded by the Danes in the late 9th century and enjoyed years of prosperity thanks to its wool industry and access to river transportation.

The famous writer John Bunyan was born in the village of Elstow near Bedford in 1628 and was imprisoned for his nonconformist beliefs in Bedford jail between 1660 and 1672.

Later, the area became famous for wartime aviation and its huge hangars at Cardington. World famous big band leader Glenn Miller was stationed in the town during World War Two.

Today a number of museums celebrate Bedford’s past, including the John Bunyan museum. The Higgins Bedford museum explores how the town has grown and developed, together with a collection of fine arts. The Panacea Museum sheds light on the ‘Panacea Society’; a religious community that held a belief that Bedford was the Garden of Eden.

Other museums and galleries in the town include Rock City Art, which is dedicated to music photography, the Eagle Gallery and Bromham Mill & Gallery.

Theatres and Arts

The University of Bedfordshire Theatre is the largest theatre in Bedford and hosts many large productions as well as projects from the university.

The Place is home to three drama groups and a light opera group. It presents a varied season of shows throughout the year.

The Quarry Theatre on St. Peter’s Street is the new performing arts facility for Bedford School. The 286-seat theatre is primarily a school venue but all productions are open to the public. It attracts professional touring work from across the country and beyond.

The Mill Theatre houses five regular companies which stage up to eight productions a year in a converted watermill.

For more information on the cultural entertainment on offer in Bedford, please take a look at the links below.