The Holt Society
Pictures of Holt

Holt Society's new publication

Georgian Holt at Work and Play

Book cover

At the Holt Society we are often asked questions relating to the town's Georgian history, for example:

  • What was it like to live and work in Holt during the Georgian period?
  • Which were the key buildings?
  • What entertainment and schooling were available?
  • What impact did enclosure and the constant wars have on the town?

We are now very fortunate to be able to answer many of these and other questions in our new publication Georgian Holt at Work and Play. This 32-page soft-cover booklet, written by Margaret Bird, delves into the life of the town during the period 1780-1810 thanks to the contemporary diary of Mary Hardy (written from 1773 to 1809).

The booklet's seven chapters offer in-depth commentary coupled with colour and archive photographs and references to sources and further reading:

  1. Holt's claims to prominence
  2. The town at work
  3. The town at prayer
  4. Women to the fore
  5. Children's schooldays
  6. The town in wartime
  7. The town at play

Mary Hardy lived in the neighbouring village of Letheringsett, and she and her family frequently visited Holt for work, shopping and recreation. Her extensive diary has allowed us to appreciate and understand Holt and its residents in the Georgian period through its editor Margaret Bird, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

In the booklet the reader is taken on a virtual walk around the town, as shown on the copy of a map of 1810. Key buildings and landmarks are located, and their associated stories recounted, in this excellent study which will appeal to the curious resident or visitor as well as historians.

You can read about the sample market in grain, the local and regional justice system, the twice-yearly fair, and how the many public houses "underpinned a wide range of activities central to people's lives". This wonderfully rich description of life in Georgian Holt also includes the rise of the Methodists and the reasons behind the severe economic pressures of the time. In addition, the enormous influence of the womenfolk is certainly not left out!

Books cost £5.00, postage and packing £1.50 and will be available for sale/despatch from 3rd April 2023.
To order a copy of the book, send an email to

Copies will also be available at the Holt Society AGM and at future Talks and Lectures.

For more information about Mary Hardy and her diary, see