I had read interesting reviews of Holt and Baconsthorpe Castle in North Norfolk and so we set off to explore both on a glorious, summery day in mid-September. We started at Holt.
A huge fire in 1708 destroyed the old town of Holt1 which was then rebuilt in stone, brick and flint to create today’s picturesque and popular small town near the North Norfolk coast.
The town was bulging with tourists on the day we visited and seemed very much like a giant shopping emporium. Dozens of independent boutiques line the streets and fill the ‘yards’ which open off the streets. And when you have ‘shopped’ there are more than enough cafes, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants to satisfy anyone’s needs. The Tourist Office supplies the Holt Owl Trail2 which is a self-guided tour of the town.3And The Poppy Line railway runs between Holt and Sheringham for those looking for a different experience.
St Andrew’s Church in Holt
There has been a church on this site since before the Domesday Book. St Andrew’s Church4 is the original Mediaeval church, although it lost its thatched roof during the Great Fire, and was been heavily restored in Victorian times. It stands near the original market place, and the churchyard felt like being in the countryside, rather than in the middle of the town. It is delightful.
Sir John Gresham founded Gresham’s in 1555. He became a Lord Mayor of London and a member and then Master of The Worshipful Company of Mercers. Sir John (1495-1556) was born in Holt and probably educated at a church school at Beeston Regis. When Henry VIII dissolved the Monasteries education was affected and so Sir John found a school in Holt. Curiously, he placed the school, with an endowment, in the care of The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. The original school remains in the centre of Holt and houses the pre-prep school. Around the turn of the 20th century the main school moved to a new building outside the town.5
Benjamin Britten attended Greshams in the 20th century, and played the organ in St Andrew’s Church!
Holt in North Norfolk was an interesting visit, although I would like to return at a slightly less touristy time. There is apparently good walking in the Country Park, just outside Holt, but take cash and be ready for the parking machine to be out of order!