St Andrew the Apostle

The historic Georgian town of Holt is the focal point for a large rural area and is a busy and bustling former market town, attracting many visitors and tourists.

About this church

The parish church of St Andrew the Apostle was established in Holt before 1086, the year of the Domesday Book. The church is situated in the heart of the town at the end of Church Street, which is found behind the War Memorial, at the east end of what was the original Market Place.

It is almost certain that a church was built on this site in the 11th century making this a of prayer over a period of a thousand years. Nothing of the original building survives with much of the present building dating back to the 14th century. During this time churches in the neighbouring coastal ports were being built on a grand scale. Holt did not share this same prosperity and the church was built to a relatively modest design, although there was originally a spire.

A disastrous fire swept through the town on Saturday 1st May 1708 and the church was gutted. It was rebuilt in 1727 and then further restored by Butterfield in the 1860s. The fire started at Shirehall Plain and quickly spread through the timber houses of the town. The church was badly damaged with its thatched 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.

In 1968, two RAF jets collided over Holt, and the memorial to the seven airmen killed is simple and moving. 

A survey of the graveyard has been undertaken to complete a record for those who may wish to explore their family history. The record is complicated and as precise as possible.

Two of the most significant Englishmen of the 20th century are linked with Holt. WH Auden and Benjamin Britten both went to school here at Greshams, in the years after the First World War. Both went on to break artistic ground, and the influence of both will be felt for generations to come. Britten loved his school days, and often played the organ in the church.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • Social heritage stories
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • Car park at church
  • Accessible toilets in church
  • Café in church

Other nearby churches

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St Nicolas

The earliest part of this church is its chancel, from the late 13th century. It has a beautiful rib vaulted roof, and, most unusually, a seven light window. There is only one other like this in England.

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All Saints

Set in a large churchyard in quiet countryside inland from the sea, Upper Sheringham's church has features from both the 14th and 15th centuries.

Supported by National Churches Trust, for people who love church buildings