The village grew up around the Templar holdings at Temple Dinsley, and Princess Helena College is now on the site. The first church was mentioned in 1252, when six acres (24,000 m²) of land was given to nuns from Elstow, Bedfordshire.
Temple Dinsley passed on to the Knights Hospitaller after the dissolution of the Templars. When the Hospitallers were in turn dissolved in 1542, the manor went to Sir Ralph Sadleir.
In the 17th century the village became linked with John Bunyan, who used to hold services in a natural amphitheatre now called Bunyan's Dell.