Holt (St. Andrew)

HOLT (St. Andrew), a market-town and parish, in the union of Erpingham, hundred of Holt, W. division of Norfolk, 23 miles (N. N. W.) from Norwich, and 123 (N. N. E.) from London; containing 1604 inhabitants. This place, from the quantity of timber which grew upon its site or by which it was surrounded, was by the Saxons called Holt, signifying a wood: in the reign of Edward the Confessor it was held in royal demesne, and after the Conquest the lordship belonged to the family of De Vaux, or De Vallibus. The town is pleasantly situated on rising ground, in the midst of a fertile district remarkable for the purity of its air, and commands a delightful prospect of the adjacent country, which is justly styled "The Garden of Norfolk." The parish comprises 2849a. 2r. 15p., of which 1774a. 2r. 34p. are arable land, 486a. 1r. 12p. pasture, and 552a. 3r. 38p. woodland. Great improvement has been effected since 1708, in which year a very destructive fire consumed a considerable number of houses, the marketstalls, &c. The houses are neatly built of brick and stone, and the streets macadamized, paved, and lighted with gas; the inhabitants are supplied with water from a spring on Spout Common, and from several wells in the neighbourhood. Here are a circulating library and a book club, supported by subscription; and assemblies are occasionally held in the county-hall. In 1810, the commons and heaths that surrounded the town were inclosed for cultivation; and on the east side, towards Cromer, are now handsome and thriving plantations of forest-trees, interspersed with neat dwelling-houses. The market for corn is on Saturday, and is well attended: fairs, chiefly for live stock, are held on April 25th and Nov. 25th, and the following days; and a statute for hiring servants, at Michaelmas. The powers of the county debt-court of Holt, established in 1847, extend over the great part of the registration-district of Erpingham. Petty-sessions are held every alternate Saturday in the county-hall, a commodious building in which all public business is transacted; and constables and other officers are chosen at the court leet of the lord of the manor, on Dec. 21st.

The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £11. 17. 3½., and in the gift of St. John's College, Cambridge: the tithes have been commuted for £585, including the tithes on the glebe, which contains upwards of 57 acres. About 6 acres of the glebe are let out to the poor, in portions of one rood each, by the incumbent, the Rev. H. Jackson, B. D., who has a handsome parsonage-house, with tastefully laid-out grounds. The church is in the decorated and later English styles, and had formerly upon its tower a lofty spire, which was a useful landmark; the interior contains several monuments, among which is one to the memory of John Holmes, master of the grammar school for more than 30 years, and author of a Greek grammar, &c. There are places of worship for the Society of Friends, Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, and Baptists. The grammar school was founded in 1554, under letterspatent of Philip and Mary, by Sir John Gresham, Knt., citizen and alderman of London, who endowed it in 1556 with property now producing £428 per annum, and vested the management in the Fishmongers' Company. There is an exhibition of £20 per annum for a scholar to either of the Universities; and Smith's fellowship and scholarship, with an exhibition of £12 per annum, for Sydney-Sussex College, Cambridge, belong to the school. At the inclosure in 1810, 120 acres were allotted for the supply of fuel to those householders whose rent is under £10 per annum. Sir Thomas Gresham, celebrated as a merchant and financier, and who, besides other great and charitable endowments, founded Gresham College and the Royal Exchange, was born here in 1507. Thomas Girdlestone, an eminent physician, and author of several medical works; and William Withers, who wrote several works on the planting and rearing of forest-trees, were also natives. Thomas Cooper, master of the grammar school, was hanged in front of the school-house for his adberence to Charles I.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.