The Rural Parish of Holt extends to an area of 5,500 acres with a population of just over 1200 and is predominantly agricultural, forestry and sandy heathland. The Parish consists of scattered settlements - Holt village, Broomhill, Holtwood, Whitemoor, Holt Forest, Grange, Gaunts Common, Pig Oak, Mannington, Higher and Lower Row, and Holt Heath - some are mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Holt Forest and Holt Heath are owned by the National Trust. A large area is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Holt Forest is a very ancient Royal Forest and is mentioned in the Domesday Book where it is referred to as 'Foresta de Wimburne'. After the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 the manor of Kingston Lacy including Holt Forest was sold to Sir Edward Blount and in 1636 the Manor of Kingston Lacy was bought by Sir John Bankes in whose family the estate remained until 1981 when it was bequeathed to the National Trust.