St Laurence church outside


St Laurence church inside

This is the biggest parish in the White Hart part of the Three Valleys Team with  2423 acres  and also in terms of population. The large Perpendicular church has been a site of Christian worship for at least 700 years. It is the finest building in this small village and is the only Grade I-listed building among the 24 listed structures in the parish. It is a fine example of the 15th century style. The grandeur of the whole composition illustrates the great wealth that existed in this area during the 15th century due largely to the importance of the local wool trade. Late Victorian work is in evidence in the rebuilt chancel and the fittings and furnishings. It stands in its churchyard in a conservation area.

Robert Le Brett donated the land for the church to the abbots of Abbotsbury in 1322 and most of the current church was largely the result of a rebuilding in the early part of the 15th century to which further additions and changes have been made in more recent times. The church is unusual in that the tower was built some years before the nave. There are three medieval sun dials on the south side. A gallery was erected in front of the west tower in 1734 and the chancel was rebuilt in 1770 – though not the chancel arch – and it was rebuilt again, and extended, in 1885, by Crickmay, when an organ chamber was also added, the gallery removed and the church restored. The faculty seeking authority for these 1885 changes claimed that it „is one of the very few left in the Vale of Blackmore which have not been restored or put into a proper state‟. The chantry chapel was restored in 1946. 24

The nave roof was discovered to be defective in 2001 and the church was closed for five years while a new steel roof structure was erected above the existing timbers and the whole extensively restored along with the interior. During this major restoration some of the timbers were found to date back to the 1190‟s. While the church was closed services were held in a neighbouring church or in the village hall some 1.25 miles away. The church was rededicated in September 2007.

The nave has an early 15th-century wagon-vaulted ceiling and the north chapel a fine 17th-century wooden ceiling with moulded beams and bosses. The church has simple late Victorian pews throughout except for the north aisle where a number have been removed. There is a simple late 17th-century pulpit with reeded lower panels. Consideration is also being given to removing the nave pews and replacing them with chairs which are considered to be more flexible.

Holwell is a dispersed village with a population of about 380 people mainly in the Crouch and Fosters Hill and Pulham Road areas and the rest in widely spread clusters. The church is in one of these, with only five houses down a no through road, at one edge of the village and adjacent to open farmland. It has two services per month, one Communion and one Evensong. The congregation averages around 20, the Communion service being more popular than Evensong. There is a peal of bells in good order rung regularly by a local team and ringers occasionally visit from other parts of the country.