Holnest is a scattered village originally within the ancient White Hart Forest, situated either side of the A352 and five miles south of Sherborne.
In 1195 it was named Holehurst until 1316 when it became Holenhurst and later still Holnest. The name probably derived from the old English word Holynhurst meaning holly tree or wood. It is first mentioned in the reign of Henry VIII (1509 - 1547) when in 1552 it was leased to Sir Walter Raleigh and was part of the Sherborne estate.
The Grade 1 13th century church, dedicated to St Mary, and the adjacent farmhouse, originally a hunting lodge to the White Hart Forest, are the only remaining buildings of the old Holnest village, the rest being destroyed after the Black Death. Holnest has a Grade 2 mansion house.
Current industries are farming and horticulture but in former times a brick works and sawmills were part of the then Holnest estate.