The village grew up around the Templar holdings at Temple Dinsley. The Princess Helena College is now on the site. The first church was mentioned in 1252: 6 acres of land was given to some nuns from Elstow, Bedfordshire.
Temple Dinsley was 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 Sadlier.
In the seventeenth century the village became linked with John Bunyan who used to hold services in a natural amphitheatre now called Bunyan's Dell.
St Martin's is the local Anglican church, which was opened in 1900.