St Katharine’s Church, Holt

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


St Katharine's Church, Holt


The present parish church, dedicated to St Katharine (or Katherine, or Catherine) of Alexandria, stands almost on its own to the south of Ham Green.

A chapel was built on land belonging to the mother church in Bradford that was given by Cecilia, who became Abbess of Shaftesbury in 1107. The carved stone font dates from this first building in the 12th century (but stands on a 17th century baluster-style pedestal). The chapel was mentioned again in 1288-9, when it was probably rebuilt and again in 1349 in a list of chapels annexed to Bradford. As a chapel in the large parish of Bradford it was served by a curate who represented the vicar.

Under the Commonwealth in 1656, Holt was proposed to be separated from Bradford and become part of a parish that included Great and Little Chalfield and Staverton, but it did not happen. In 1846 Holt became a separate ecclesiastical parish as a Perpetual Curacy and is now linked as a united benefice with Broughton Gifford and Great Chalfield.

In the 15th century the west tower, of ashlar stone with battlements and saddleback roof, was added to the 13th century church. The church was too small by the 19th century and in 1833 the nave was extended over part of the chancel and aisles were added on both sides. The aisles continued the roofline of the nave so that the building resembled a barn and would have been poorly lit.

Bradford architect Charles Septimus Adye (1841-1906) drew up a plan of the church (Lambeth Palace Library, opens a new tab) in 1874, possibly after he had reseated it. The structure had become unstable by later in the century and did not suit High Victorian taste, so much of the church was rebuilt from 1889, at a cost of £2,300, leaving the old tower, south wall and doorway. The church re-opened in 1891. The architect was Charles Edwin Ponting (1850-1932) of Marlborough, who designed several churches in the Diocese of Salisbury; the builder was James Burgess, from Westbury.

Some 17th and 18th century wall monuments were transferred from the old building, as was the Norman 12th century font.