Holt is one of Norfolk's most charming towns.
PUBLISHED: 09:30 15 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:52 20 February 2013
A great place to visit with everything from gorgeous shops to historic delights.
A great place to visit
From gorgeous shops to historic delights, Holt is one of Norfolks most charming towns, says Keiron Pim.
Holts galleries sell a plethora of paintings, prints, sculptures and ceramics. The Bircham Gallery, at 14 Market Place, is always worth a look. Its next exhibition, from November 7 to December 2, includes landscape watercolours by Sophie Knight and pottery by Jack Doherty. See www.birchamgallery.co.uk or call 01263 713312. Picturecraft is another well known gallery featuring a variety of local artists. In December, it will exhibit the stunning watercolour landscapes of seven-year-old Kieron Williamson, the Holt boy whose work has taken the art world by storm.
See www.picturecraftgallery.com for information.
Take time to stand back and admire the buildings that house Holts shops and cafs, as well as going inside them. In 1708, a great fire devastated the town. The result was a comprehensive rebuilding and Holt boasts many fine examples of gracious Georgian architecture. The 14th century church of St Andrew was also gutted by the fire and was extensively refurbished by the Victorians. The stained glass windows honour saints including Julian of Norwich.
The poet W H Auden is one of the most famous people to have attended Greshams School, on Cromer Road. The schools theatre is at the heart of the towns arts scene. The box office is open Monday to Friday from 12.30pm-2pm. Telephone 01263 713444, see www.greshams.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 1650 the Feathers Hotel has been an important part of Holt and, as well as hosting guests to the town, it continues to be a favourite spot for local people to eat out. The Plume Restaurant has an la carte menu. Telephone 01263 712318 or see www.feathershotel.com Over in Letheringsett the recently renovated Kings Head is Norfolk restaurateur Chris Coubroughs latest venture. See www.letheringsettkings
head.co.uk or call 01263 712691.
This is Norfolks only watermill that still produces flour, with several varieties on sale including spelt and the millersown blends. The redbrick building on the River Glaven dates from 1802. Mike and Marion Thurlow took over in 1987 and Mike gives demonstrations and tours on most days. The mill is on Riverside Road in Letheringsett, a mile west of Holt. Call 01263 713153 for more details.
If the hustle and bustle of Holts busy centre get too much, it is easy to escape into the countryside. A mile south of the town, Holt Country Park contains more than 100 acres of woodland dominated by Scots pine and broadleaved trees. Deer, emperor dragonflies, greater spotted woodpeckers and goldcrests are among the wildlife to be seen. Telephone 01263 516001 for details. Then theres the much-loved Kelling Heath north-east of Holt: 250 acres of woodland and moorland, rich with wild flowers. Head out of town on the A148 Cromer Road and follow the signs.
The North Norfolk Steam Railway
The Poppy Line runs from Sheringham to Holt. From the station you can head into town on the Holt Flyer, an old-fashioned red Routemaster double-decker bus. In the station yard is the memorabilia-filled William Marriott Museum, which tells the history of the Midland and Great Northern Line. Theres also a bookshop and plant stall. See www.nnrailway.co.uk or telephone 01263 820800 for more information.
Holt is a shopping lovers dream, with dozens of interesting independent stores to explore. Bakers & Larners at 8-12 Market Place styles itself as the exceptional department store, selling everything from hampers and homeware to books and fashion. It is at the heart of the towns retail trade. There are also many smaller gems to find, especially if youre looking for antiques or vintage clothes. Try Past Caring, at 6 Chapel Yard, for fashion dating from the 1800s to the 1950s, and give the Holt Antique Centre a look with its vendors selling everything from grand paintings to tiny curios, theres bound to be something to your taste.
Tea rooms and cafs
There are plenty of places to stop and refresh yourself. A caf with a difference is Doodlepots at 1a New Street as well as having a cup of tea and cake, you can paint a piece of pottery, which staff will glaze and fire for you to collect later. The Owl Tea Room and Bake Shop takes its name from the bird that is Holts emblem. The caf on Church Street
has a walled garden and also offers
crafts for sale.
The arts and crafts butterfly house on Cromer Road, just outside the town, is a private residence but is open by appointment and it is well worth booking a tour because it is fascinating to explore. The Grade I listed grounds feature a walled garden, planted with fruits from plums and pears to persimmons, and the house itself has been beautifully restored by owner Simon Finch. Guided tours last one and a half hours. See www.voewood.com or call 01263 713029 to book.