Antiques at the Holt
Antiques at the Holt
Home The Fair The Holt Venue Dates & Times Dealers Links Contact
Antiques at the Holt


The Holt from a photograph dating from the 1940s.

The Holt, or Hopcrofts Holt, to give it the full title, is a former coaching inn that stands on the main Oxford to Banbury A4260, some twelve miles north of Oxford.

An inn has been known on the site since the fifteenth century, and was certainly well established by the time Richard III met his bloody end on the battlefield at Bosworth. In those days the inn was a modest affair with just half a dozen rooms, but standing alongside a major crossroads, and on a route that would become a major turnpike in later centuries, the inn's future was always assured.

Hopcrofts Holt became a major staging post in the heyday of coach travel, and offered comfortable accommodation and a change of horses for travelers on the north road from Oxford - effectively the capital of England during the Civil War. With traffic also passing by on the east-west route between Bicester and Chipping Norton, the Holt has always been a busy meeting place. With more than 80 rooms today, as well as restaurant, bars and function rooms, it is now a popular stop-over for business people, tourists, shoppers (Bicester Village is nearby) and motor racing teams.

Claude Duval painting by William Powell Frith, circa 1860

Being sited on a major crossroads and offering everything the weary traveler could wish for has ensured that The Holt has continued to thrive, despite an essentially rural location. The hotel's bedrooms range from the Blenheim Suite, with its magnificent four-poster, through generously proportioned family rooms, to comfortable doubles, twins and singles. All have en-suite bathrooms, wi-fi and the usual amenities, and over the last 12 months, most have been fully refurbished. There are 9 function rooms, the award-winning Du Vall Restaurant with extensive table d'hote menu, and the Highwayman's Bar & Lounge where bar meals are also served. There is ample parking for more than 200 cars.

The inn sign at The Holt

In the seventeenth century Hopcrofts Holt was the favoured haunt of notorious highwayman Claude Duval. Born in Normandy in around 1643, Duval became entangled in the aftermath of the English Civil War and, on the Restoration of the monarchy, journeyed to England with a group of Royalists returning from Paris. After working briefly 'in service', he embarked on a rather more flamboyant career depriving wealthy travelers of their riches and dignity, but in a typically gallic style. He reputedly never used actual violence, was meticulously polite, and even insisted on dancing with the wives of the affluent gentlemen he robbed.

Such was the romantic notion of Duval's life that he has been credited with saving Charles II life, being a close friend (and more?) of Nell Gwynn, and the subject of many songs, folk tales, novels and even an opera. The law eventually caught up with Duval, and he was captured in London's Covent Garden, tried, found guilty, and hanged. On that day The Holt lost one of its best patrons, but he remains immortalised in the form of the hotel's magnificent carved and painted inn sign.