Holt Town Focus
PUBLISHED: 08:42 25 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:14 20 February 2013
Ten great reasons to visit Holt
Ten great reasons to visit Holt
Join those in the know and enjoy a visit to one of Norfolks most chic towns, says Chris Bishop.
1 Holt is mentioned in the Domesday Book. In 1086, there were just 60 men and 90 sheep living at the junction of two main routes across North Norfolk. Much of the town came about after 1708, when a fire destroyed part of the town centre and devoured buildings made of timber and thatch, causing damage put at 11,000, a gigantic sum for the times.
2 Donations towards repairs came flooding in and Georgian Holt was re-built around its Market Place. Holt is still classed as a market town although a market hasnt been held here for 50 years. Perhaps this helps explain its eclectic mix of speciality shops, with the centre a must-visit if youre into whole foods, galleries, the arts and antiques.
3 Bakers forerunner of Bakers and Larners moved into the Market Place in the 1760s. Its been a blacksmith, brewer, builder, ironmonger and plumbers along the way to its present-day guise as a department store known as Norfolks Harrods. The title reflects the huge range of items to be found in its store, while its website www.bakersandlarners.co.uk contains tips on such essentials as how to brew the perfect cup of tea!
4 Holts symbol is the owl that perches atop its wooden town sign. Just like the wise old owl, Holt folk are referred to as the knowing ones in this part of Norfolk. Perhaps the Owl Tea Shop on the Market Place is the place to soak up some wisdom. Or try the coffee house Horatio Mugs on Bull Street that is a caf and takeaway offering homemade cakes, pies and locally sourced foods.
5 Poet WH Auden, composer Benjamin Britten and inventor Sir Christopher Cockerell are old Greshamians alumni from Greshams School. The senior school stands alongside the Cromer Road, while the pre-prep school stands just off the Market Place.
6 Let the train take the strain if you fancy doing some exploring. Not far from the town centre stands Holt Station western terminus of the Poppy Line, a restored steam railway which puffs through some of North Norfolks most dazzling scenery on its way to Sheringham. Holt to Sheringham return is 10.50; see www.nnrailway.co.uk for latest timetables.
7 Also worthy of a visit is Letheringsett Mill, the last watermill in Norfolk which still produces flour. Lovingly-restored Letheringsett grinds organic wheat and specialises in spelt, a variety high in vitamin B. It is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays; phone to check working times, 01263 713153.
8A higgledy-piggledy world of pleasure with an all day Continental-style cafe and delicatessen is Byfords, in Shirehall Plain. Its a gloriously fun place for elevenses, Norfolk kippers in the cafe or the deli for treats to take home. One motto on the cake front is Keeping Norfolk curvy, so beware, theyre more-ish.
9 The Kings Head in the High Street has one of those glorious real ale bars where you can warm up in front of the fire and read your EDP Norfolk magazine in comfort. Its pub menu is probably one of the most diverse for miles around.
10 Wednesday, November 24 will see thousands flock to Holt for the towns famous Christmas tree lights switch-on when the shops stay open late. Its also a chance to make a timely visit to Holts own Christmas Shop in Bull Street, selling baubles and decorations from around the world.