Holt is one of Norfolk's most charming towns.

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 Norfolk’s most charming towns, says Keiron Pim.

Art

 

Holt’s 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.

Architecture

 

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Take time to stand back and admire the buildings that house Holt’s shops and caf�s, 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.

Auden Theatre

The poet W H Auden is one of the most famous people to have attended Gresham’s School, on Cromer Road. The school’s theatre is at the heart of the town’s arts scene. The box office is open Monday to Friday from 12.30pm-2pm. Telephone 01263 713444, see www.greshams.com or email boxoffice@greshams.com

Eating out

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 King’s Head is Norfolk restaurateur Chris Coubrough’s latest venture. See www.letheringsettkingshead.co.uk or call 01263 712691.

Letheringsett Watermill

This is Norfolk’s only watermill that still produces flour, with several varieties on sale including spelt and the millers’ own 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.

Nature

If the hustle and bustle of Holt’s 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 there’s 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. There’s also a bookshop and plant stall. See www.nnrailway.co.uk or telephone 01263 820800 for more information.

Shopping

Holt is a shopping lover’s 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 town’s retail trade. There are also many smaller gems to find, especially if you’re 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, there’s bound to be something to your taste.

Tea rooms and caf�s

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 Holt’s emblem. The caf� on Church Street has a walled garden and also offers crafts for sale.

Voewood

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.