John Bunyan (November 28, 1628 – August 31, 1688), a Christian writer and preacher, was born at Harrowden (one mile south-east of Bedford), in the Parish of Elstow, England. He wrote The Pilgrim's Progress, arguably the most famous published Christian allegory. In the Church of England he is remembered with a Lesser Festival on 30 August.
The museum is housed in the same complex as the Bunyan Meeting Free Church, the church in which John Bunyan was once a minister. It occupies the site of the barn which the congregation purchased in 1672 and used as a place of worship. The present church is the second purpose-built church on the site and was built in 1849.
The museum itself was formally established in 1998, though there had been a collection of Bunyan artefacts and memorabilia housed in a small museum room in the church complex since 1849. Today the museum has a number of recreation scenes from Bunyan's life which also show some of Bedford's social history in the 17th century. In addition there are artifacts such as Bunyan's iron violin and wooden flute, Bunyan's stoneware jug he used in prison as well as his will and a third edition of The Pilgrim's Progress.