The name Holt is thought to come from the Saxon word meaning woodland, and there are still many wooded areas surrounding the town today.
 

It has a pretty, architecturally interesting town centre, which it is a pleasure to walk round, and the 14th century church of St Andrew’s and All Saints.

Holt is associated with the owl, and many of the local clubs use this symbol as their emblem. There is also the owl tea shop in the Market Place. Holt people are said to be called the “knowing ones”.

An owl was disturbing local residents. One story said it was put in a cattle pound, but not surprisingly it flew away, and another version, told in Rye’s History of Norfolk, is that the owl’s hooting so annoyed men working on the church that they pushed it up a water spout and left it to drown. The owl, however, managed to fly out of the top.

The exact date for the birth of Holt is unknown, but it is recorded in the Doomesday Book of 1086, when there were 60 men listed as living in Holt: 10 freemen, 24 bordars, two serfs (no women or children are recorded). There were also 90 sheep, 60 pigs a carthorse, five mills and a market.

Alice Perers, the wife of Sir John Nerford, became the mistress of Edward III while in the service of Queen Philippa. When the queen died, the king gave Alice all his late wife’s jewels and other valuables. In 1376 the Black Prince finally succeeded in banishing her, but she returned in 1377 during the King’s last illness and is said to have taken the rings off his fingers as he lay on his deathbed.
 
In 1461 Thomas Lord Roos, Lord of the Manor of Holt, was executed by the Yorkists for supporting the Lancastrian side in the War of the Roses.

1592 Plague strikes the little town, killing 64 people between February and August.

1650 Thomas Cooper, usher and probably headmaster of Greshams School, was hanged on Christmas day for his part in the Royalist Rebellion on behalf of Charles II. His bpdy was displayed on a gibbet outside the school.

1660 An outraged Puritan minister, John Bond, wrote to a local magistrate demanding action against some local people who had got up to something scandalous in the market place. We’ll probably never know exactly what went on, although it was probably a bit of play acting. Honoured Sir, wrote the minister. “I am credibly informed that there was a most horrid and prodigious misdemeanor committed in our town last week. There was, it seemth such obscenity and filthiness acted publicly in the face of the sun that I am ashamed to mention it.” He goes on to talk of people dressed up in bull’s hides, long poles with oyster shells decorating them and some abusing of local people with honest and sober reputations. It is not recorded whether the magistrate ever took any action.

1708 The town's present Georgian architectural character derives from the time of a great fire on May Day 1708. Much of the town was destroyed and had to be rebuilt, including the parish church of St Andrew’s.

1787 Nearly 80 years later Parson Woodforde of Weston Longville slept at the Feathers Hotel and described the town as being built in an "era of comely brick". He thought that hold "stood well" and was a"good decent town".

1789 On April 23, while the French were in the turmoil of revolution, the people of Holt were celebrating the recovery of George III from "his late state of insanity". 500 people dined in Holt marketplace on plum puddings and boiled beef, and there was a dance at the Shirehall in the evening.

1800 Riots in December 1800 against the high price of food, particularly flour.

1831 The census recorded 306 houses inhabited by 327 families, and by 1838 the population stood at 1700.

1968 Holt Air Crash, August 19. Two RAF planes collided over Holt. Seven airmen were killed.

Holt has never forgotten it. A raging electric storm, a terrifying explosion and burning wreckage raining down on rooftops and gardens. For 14,500 feet above north Norfolk two RAF jets a Victor aircraft and a Canberra had collided and exploded sending debris crashing to earth for miles around. Thirty years after the August 19, 1968 disaster in which Holt was miraculously spared from destruction a memorial service to remember seven airmen who died was held.

"I am at 13,500 feet and climbing," were the last words from the crew of Victor XH646 before radio contact was lost as the Marham-based plane climbed away from its station on a training exercise. It collided with a Canberra from RAF Bruggen in Germany. Both crews died.

Neither plane was carrying missiles, nuclear or conventional. PC Ian Jarvis, now retired, of Thompson Avenue, had only moved to Holt that weekend and had not taken up duty. "I made the first 999 call," he said. "It was quite incredible. When I got down Kelling Road the burning front cockpit of a Victor was there."

Today there are no physical scars from the terrible night over 40 years ago. But in the pine woods of Holt Country Park a deformed pine tree bears testimony to where a body crashed to earth on a young tree many years ago.