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Holt is a market town and parish in the Englishmarker county of Norfolk. The town is north of the city of Norwichmarker, west of Cromermarker and east of King's Lynnmarker. The town is on the route of the A148 King's Lynn to Cromer road. The nearest railway station is in the town of Sheringhammarker where access to the national rail network can be made via the Bittern Line to Norwich. Holt also has a station on the preserved North Norfolk Railwaymarker, ‘The Poppy Line’, of which it is the south-western terminus. The nearest airport is Norwich International Airportmarker. The town has a population of 3,550. Holt is within the area covered by North Norfolk District Council.



The name Holt is thought to derive from the Anglo-Saxon word for woodland and Holt is located on wooded high ground of the Cromer ridge at the crossing point of two ancient by-ways and as such was a natural point for a settlement to grow. The town has a mention in the great survey of 1086 known as the Domesday Book. In the survey it is described as a market town and a port with the nearby port of Cley next the Seamarker being described as Holt’s port. It also had five watermills and twelve plough teams and as such was seen as a busy thriving viable settlement then. The first Lord of the Manor was Walter Giffard; it passed to Hugh, Earl of Chester, who then left it to the De Vaux family. By this time Holt had a well-established market and two annual fairs which were held on the 25th of April and the 25th of November. Over the years Holt grew as a local place of trade and commerce. Unfortunately the weekly market was stopped in 1960.

The Fire of 1708

On 1 May 1708 the town of Holt was devastated by a fire which destroyed most of the medieval town in the matter of three hours. The fire started at Shirehall plain and quickly spread through the mainly timber framing houses of the town. The church was also badly damaged with its thatch chancel destroyed and the lead melted from the windows with the flames spreading up the steeple. Local reports of the time state that the fire spread so swiftly that the butchers did not have time to rescue their meat from their stalls on the market. The damage to the town was estimated to be in the region of £11,000. which was a massive amount of money at that time. After the fire the town received many donations from all over the country and the task of reconstruction began.

Georgian Holt

With most of the medieval buildings destroyed in the fire the townsfolk set about rebuilding the town. The rebuilding made Holt notable for its abundance of Georgian buildings, that being the style of the day at the time when the town centre was rebuilt. However, the town repaired and retains its Norman parish church, which is dedicated to St Andrew.


Gresham's School

Big School, Gresham's
Holt is the seat of Gresham's Schoolmarker, a long-established public school founded in 1555 by Sir John Gresham, originally for boys only but co-educational since 1971.

The school's former students (Old Greshamians) include Benjamin Britten, W. H. Auden, Lord Reith, Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, President Erskine Childers, Sir Christopher Cockerell, Donald Maclean, Sir Lennox Berkeley, Sir Stephen Spender, Tom Wintringham, Sir James Dyson, Ralph Firman, Sir Peter Brook, Sebastian Shaw, Sienna Guillory and Michael Cummings.

Other schools

Holt Community Primary School is a primary school for children aged 5–11.


Holt railway station
Holt railway station, opened in 1887, was served by the Midland and Great Northern Railway. Most of this network was closed by British Railways in 1959 but the short section from Melton Constable railway stationmarker via Holt to Sheringham (services continuing on to Cromer and Norwich) escaped closure for a few more years - finally succumbing in 1964 when the branch was cut back to Sheringham (now the nearest national rail-head, served by frequent services to Norwich along the 'Bittern line'). In 1965, within a year of the closure of this line, the North Norfolk Railway was formed to restore part of the line as an independent heritage steam railway. Initially it operated between Sheringham and Weybourne; later it was extended to the eastern edge of Holt. Until a few years ago, a horse-bus service, the "Holt Flyer", ran between the Railway Tavern in the town centre and the new railway station, timed to connect with trains. The horse-bus has now been replaced by a Routemaster bus. There are now plans to extend the railway back towards the town centre.

Sport and Recreation

Holt has a successful and well-organized Rugby football club, formed in 1961. The club's first match was played against West Norfolk on Gresham's Schoolmarker playing field. In the early days the team used the White Lion Hotel (now closed) for their changing rooms and hospitality. In 1967 the club was able to purchase of land on the eastern side of Bridge Road in nearby High Kellingmarker. The club began playing their home games at their new facilities in 1969. At Bridge Road the club has three full-size pitches, six dedicated mini pitches and a clubhouse which was built in 1970. There are changing room facilities for up to 100 players. The club has three senior sides, a junior side and mini rugby sides for age 6 through to 12 year olds.

Holt United Football Club has an even longer history than the Rugby Club. It was formed in 1894 and was a founder member of the North Norfolk and Norwichmarker League, which began in 1895. In 1927 the club joined the Norwich and District League and went on to win this league on five occasions. In 1935 the club was in the Norfolk and Suffolk League and did not suffer a league defeat until December that year, when they lost to Norwich City A at Carrow Road. Holt was the first amateur team to play at the newly-built Carrow Road ground. In 1985 Holt United left their ground at Jubilee Road, which was sold to finance the new Sports Centre complex at Kelling Road. For one season Holt played their matches at Gresham's Schoolmarker. In 1986 the club moved to their new ground at the Sports Centre. Four years later they dropped into Junior football, which was a major blow to the club. During the past three seasons the club have remained in Division One of the Anglian Combination. At present Holt United run two sides, the first team and the Reserves playing in Division 6.

Holt Harlequins Hockey Club (formerly Cromer Hockey Club) plays at the astro turf ground at Greshams school.

Holt has a King George's Field in memorial to King George V.

Festivals and Cultural Events

The Doctor Who Midsummer Invasion 2006

On Sunday 25 June 2006, Holt was "invaded" by Daleks. The event was a celebration of BBC Television's classic science fiction series Doctor Who. The Doctor Who Midsummer Invasion attracted many fans of the ever-popular show to the town as well as some of its previous stars. Organised by Planet Skaro, a local sci-fi store that has subsequently closed, the highlight of the day was a Dalek parade through the town centre.

Several former Doctor Who actors came to see Holt be invaded. The visiting celebrities included the sixth Doctor, Colin Baker plus Terry Molloy, best known for playing Davros, the creator and leader of the Daleks. Deborah Watling, who played Victoria Waterfield alongside the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, also attended as did Barbara Loft, who was a child when she featured in the classic story The Mind Robber. All the stars were a real hit with the public when they signed autographs, photos and memorabilia in the High Street.

Some Cybermen were also in town as part of the Invasion.

Ken Wallis, who flew Little Nellie in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, was also in Holt meeting fans by his famous biplane.

At The Feathers Hotel on Saturday 24 June, there was a meet-and-greet buffet which gave some fans a chance to mingle with the stars before the Invasion took place the following day. Colin Baker was unable to attend this exclusive event as he was starring in a play that evening.

The Doctor Who themed events proved very popular, the Sunday especially so, with over 10,000 people visiting the town.


Due to the success of the first Invasion, another science fiction themed event took place in Holt in 2007. On 30 June, between 10 am and 4 pm at the Church Hall, there was a Collectors Fair. Attendees at the fair included Mercedes Nogh (Rystall in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi), Barbara Loft from The Mind Robber, plus Spencer Chapman (a Doctor Who set designer from the 1960s).

Spout hills common

 of green space, which provided the town of Holt with all of its water needs, enabling it to grow and flourish. An old reservior still exists but the old pumping station was taken down in the fifties. There is a working party that is restoring and conserving the hills for future generations by removing scrub and keeping the pastures clear and managing the woodlands, which have arisen over the last 50 years.

Notable people

See also


  1. Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council, 2001. " Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes"
  2. Brooks, Peter, Holt, Georgian Market Town, (Cromer: Poppyland Publishing, second edition 2001, ISBN 0946148538)
  3. – official web site of Gresham's School
  4. [1]Holt Rugby Club
  5. [2] Holt United


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