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St Martin, Holt, Worcestershire

(52°15′40″N, 2°15′7″W)
SO 829 626
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Worcestershire
now Worcestershire
medieval Worcester
now Worcester
  • G. L. Pearson
12 April 2016 (RB)

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Built of red sandstone ashlar, the church has a 12thc. aisleless nave and chancel, the latter extended in the 13thc., a 14thc. S chapel, a 15thc. W tower and a modern vestry. There are two plain round-headed windows of 12thc. date on the N side of the nave, and two in the N chancel wall, the latter windows later lengthened. Romanesque sculpture is found in the S and N nave doorways, on the string course on the N wall of the nave and chancel, in the chancel arch and on the font. There are also one window on the S side of the nave, one on the N, and a doorway leading into the vestry, all bearing sculpture related to the Romanesque work but probably of 19thc. date. Restorations were begun by the Ward family in 1859.


Before 1269, Holt was a chapelry belonging to St Helen's, Worcester. In 1086, Urse d'Abitot held five hides at Holt from the manor at Wick; at his death the estate passed with the rest of his possessions to the Beauchamp family.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Interior Decoration





The church was apparently in an extremely dilapidated state before its 19thc. restoration. It is often difficult to distinguish the new work from the genuine 12thc. sculpture, much of which has been re-tooled. For most of the Ward family's patronage the Rector was a Mr C J Sale, whose wife, a sculptress, executed the neo-Romanesque stone pulpit. Details at Holt may be compared with work at Halesowen (scallop capitals with deep shields, stylised volute capitals - similar also to Canterbury crypt - and the stepped and hyphenated chevron types) and at Ribbesford (interlace). The carving on the font also shows some affinity with the carved panel set into the N tower wall at Pedmore, and possibly also with the stem of the font at Broome. Stratford in Pevsner 1968 (198, fn.) dates the work toc.1160-75, and compares it with sculpture in Herefordshire (e.g. Bromyard and Upper Sapey), although not with that of the Herefordshire School. Stylistic similarities between the sculpture of the font and the chancel arch suggest that the same workshop was responsible for both. According to the Church Guide, the font was once painted and the removal of this paintwork, probably undertaken in 1859, explains the somewhat crude condition of the surface. The large drilled pupils could have contained metal stops. Doorways set in a projecting bay, as here, occur in a number of churches in the county (see Preface to Worcestershire).


The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Worcestershire,vol.III. London 1913, 403-07, 406-407.

F. Bond, Fonts and Font Covers. Oxford 1908, 51.

C. J. Bond, 'Church and Parish in Norman Worcestershire' in J. Blair (ed.) Minsters and Parish Churches: The Local Church in Transition 950-1200, Oxford University Committee for Archaeology Monograph 17. Oxford 1988, 119-158, 150, 151, 152.

Holt St Martin, Guide book

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Worcestershire. Harmondsworth 1968, 45, 46, 197-98.