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John Bunyan Museum and the Great Flood

AKA: ‘Oh, Water Palava!’

We know a great many of you have been wondering why we’ve yet to reopen the Museum, and we have some great news: we’ll be open during the Easter school holidays!

We thank everyone for their patience and for the support given from those already ‘in the know’. We’d also like to apologise to anyone who’s plans to visit have been disrupted by the delayed reopening; we hope the explanation below will help:

What Happened?

Some of our regular visitors and followers online may recall we had to close unexpectedly last year due to damage caused by flooding from a heavy thunderstorm:

We were fortunate that the rainfall was short-lived as the flooding could have become significantly worse if the storms had continued for days. As it was, the drainage in the lane behind Bunyan Meeting overflowed, letting water into parts of the Basement, and our Gardens, which lead to the Museum Foyer. Despite the valiant efforts of our team, the cement base to our floors absorbed a great deal of the water before it could be sluiced, swept, and mopped back out onto the street.

Why didn’t we reopen earlier in the year?

Luckily the damage can be repaired through our insurers, although that does mean we have to wait for contractors they supply to be available.

The first task was to make sure we were completely dry: the water seeped deeply under the floor, so we couldn’t just replace the carpet because the moisture would rise during warm weather and possibly cause mould or worse. We also had to move all the furniture-including the museum shop- out of the areas affected.

We installed de-humidifiers with hope that the floor would be dry in 3-4 weeks. As we started the work in early January, we hoped it would be completed by our usual opening date in February half-term. Unfortunately, it took more than double the estimated drying out time and that stage wasn’t completed until near the end of March. After we missed the planned opening date and it became less and less likely we could open during Easter, we held off giving an exact date until we know the final preparations are underway.

Do we have an idea of when we’ll be back to business as usual? In short: not yet. With the floor officially dry, we are now waiting for our decorators to be available to complete the refurbishment.

We will be open from the 4th April, for the Easter holidays, and we’ll try to stay open until the decorators are booked in. We’ll do our best to give as much notice as possible and we’ll honour group bookings and school visits wherever possible, even if we can’t open to everyone.

Keep an eye on our website or follow us on social media for the latest news.

Are there still things to do at Bunyan Meeting, even if the Museum is closed?

Yes, you can still visit the Church during the coffee shop opening times and the Basement@Bunyan has begun this year's programme of events.

Crafty Thursdays will still take place during the Easter holidays.

The museum can be opened for pre-booked guided tours and school groups, subject to availability, please contact the museum office for more details.

Can you help us when the museum is closed?

Yes, please! We’d appreciate your help anyway you can, even during our regular winter closure.

You could follow us on Facebook and Twitter and help us promote the events we’re holding by sharing our posts, including when we announce our reopening!

Or, if you’re in search of a regular activity to do in Bedford, you could also volunteer! The museum may be closed for now, but we’ll need help in getting ready and it won’t be long before we need friendly faces to help greet our visitors once again!

You can also join the Friends of the John Bunyan Museum to provide ongoing support over the year or make a one-off donation. For more information on how you can help us to continue sharing John Bunyan’s story, please visit our Get Involved page.

You’re already planning your next visit now you know we’re open?

Things are still a little uncertain for us, please be aware that until the decorators have been able to come in, the Museum Foyer and Shop won’t be quite how we’d usually have it when welcoming visitors.

We may have to close again for a few weeks after the Easter Holidays to complete the redecorating. The schedule for the work is still being decided; so please check before you plan your trip to see the museum. We’ll do our best to keep the website and social media pages as up to date as possible.

We really look forward to seeing you again, we hope it will be very soon!

John Bunyan Museum and Library Team


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