The village stands in undulating countryside six miles north of Northampton, three miles to the east of Brixworth and in an area of natural beauty. The parish lands were originally drained by a small tributary of the Pitsford Brook, which was dammed in the 1950s to form the Pitsford Reservoir. This reservoir now covers a large area of the north-east of the parish, and ornithologists and naturalists come from many miles around to view the wildlife of this nature reserve.
The Church, dedicated to St Mary and All Saints, is in the middle of this small village and over recent years has been the object of fundraising to preserve and restore its 14th century wall paintings. In the churchyard, some 5 metres south of the church, there is a limestone cross probably 15th century. A map dated 1839, amongst the parish records, shows that the cross originally stood in the middle of the crossroads at the junction of the Brixworth and Moulton roads. The early years of the 19th century saw the establishment of the Wesleyan chapel in Holcot, and the Chapel itself was built in 1814.
Farming played a major part in village life. Most of the parish has been under cultivation at some time during the medieval period. Open field mixed farming was practised in Holcot until the common fields of the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament of 1777. At the end of the 18th century it is documented in the Church records that there was a village shepherd who looked after all the village sheep; he was also responsible for dipping these sheep and used the wash pit in Holcot for this purpose. In recent years this wash pit has been cleaned and restored and is now a village pond and is attractive to both people and coots alike !
The wash pit naturally drains onto to nearby farmland, where a farmer has restored two medieval fishponds. These fishponds are also sourced by underground streams, and are now stocked with trout, and encourage a wide range of wildlife. However, in medieval times, these fishponds would have been stocked with carp and other fish by the villagers to help provide food for the winter. Fresh water for the village came from the Town Well, which is situated in main Street, just a few metres down the road from the Church. In the Church records, it is noted that in 1776 Edward West was paid the sum of 2 shillings for the work of cleaning the Well.
Holcot seems to have always had a caring community and the indications are that this trend will continue in this delightful village.
(The above extract from 'The Northamptonshire Village Book', compiled by the Northamptonshire Federation of Women's Institutes, is reproduced by kind permission of the publishers, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire)
A book recounting the history of the church of St Mary and All Saints, including a guided tour of the church, has been produced by Derek Charman (20 pages include illustrations. Published in 1986 by Derek Charman and Associates, PO Box 35, Northampton Chambers, Berridge Street, Leicester LE1 5JX)
The Northamptonshire Record Office holds copies of:
Church of England parish registers from 1559-1964
Bishop's Transcripts of Church of England parish registers from 1709-1873