A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4, Hemlingford Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1947.
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Acreage: 3,181. (fn. 1)
The parish of Curdworth lies about 8 miles from Birmingham on the Birmingham to Kingsbury road, which crosses the parish from west to east. The average height is about 275 ft. above Ordnance datum, the highest point in the parish being just over 300 ft., and the lowest about 250 ft. on the River Tame, which serves as the southern boundary of the parish. The soil is gravelly or marly, with a subsoil of reddish marl; it is noted for its growth of turnips and barley.
The village is situated about ¼ mile south-west of the junction of the road from Birmingham to Kingsbury and the road from Lichfield to Coleshill, which latter crosses the parish from north to south. A gravel pit is worked in the village, and there was a marl pit in the Church Field at the end of the 18th century, when Curdworth Meadow and 600 acres of land were inclosed. (fn. 2)
The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal (constructed 1783–90) (fn. 3) passes close by the village.
A bridge carrying the Coleshill and Lichfield road across the River Tame has existed from early times, and Dugdale records a tradition that the then existing bridge at Curdworth was built by John Harman alias Vesey, Bishop of Exeter (1465?–1554). (fn. 4) The bridge was in bad repair in 1637, and in an Order of the Quarter Sessions of the Michaelmas Term of that year a similar origin is attributed to it. (fn. 5) From the remains now visible it seems to have been similar to Vesey's bridge still standing in the adjacent parish of Water Orton. The present bridge was erected during the middle of the 19th century about 50 yards east of the site of the old one.
There is no mention of a mill at Curdworth in Domesday Book, and no traces now survive of the mill which was in existence there in the Middle Ages. (fn. 6)
'The Nest', a farm-house south-east of the church, is built of brickwork of c. 1700, but has a barn west of it of late-17th-century brickwork: the roof has old king-post trusses and straight wind-braces to the purlins. It is reputed to be the rectorial tithe barn. West of it the fields are marked by excrescences said to mark the site of one of the earliest skirmishes in the 17th-century civil war.
A farm-house on the east side of the village street, opposite the lane to the church, now tenements, is an L-shaped timber-framed building covered with roughcast cement. On the south side of it is a late-16th-century projecting chimney-stack with two star-shaped shafts of thin bricks.
The Bull's Head Inn farther south is an altered brick house but has 17th-century ceiling beams. A cottage opposite, mostly of brick, has some 17th-century timber-framing. Another east of the farm-house is similar. Farther east are the remains of a medieval moat.
Dunton Hall, ¾ mile east-north-east of the church, said to have been built c. 1680 by the 2nd Lord Leigh and to have been the home of Dr. Samuel Johnson's maternal grandparents, Cornelius and Anne Ford, is a large three-storied house of red brick and of rectangular plan. The windows have flat-arched heads with stone key blocks, and have sash frames. The staircase has turned balusters, &c., of the late 17th century. The house still retains the thirteen hearths mentioned in old tax records. A barn mostly of brick retains a little 17th-century timber-framing and roof, and there is also a brick pigeon house.
Minworth lies on the Birmingham and Kingsbury road. Until the recent boundary changes mentioned below it was separated from the western portion of the parish of Curdworth, of which it was originally a detached hamlet, by a projecting strip of land, part of the parish and borough of Sutton Coldfield. At the time of the making of the 6-in. Ordnance Survey, in 1883, it was already a civil parish, having an area of 1,525 acres, but the exact date of its formation is not known. (fn. 7) By a Ministry of Health Order No. 75387 (Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield Order, 1931) the following alterations in parish boundaries were authorized with effect as from 1 April 1931. The boundaries of the City of Birmingham were extended to include the Castle Bromwich Aerodrome, the site of the British Industries Fair (Birmingham Section), and other land lying in the western portion of the parish of Minworth between the Birmingham and Derby and Birmingham and Walsall lines of the L.M.S. Railway; in all 585 acres. Land in the southern portion of the parish to the extent of 189 acres was transferred to the parish of Castle Bromwich; and the remaining 751 acres, comprising the northern and eastern portions of the parish, and including the sewage works of the Birmingham Tame and Rea Drainage Board and the village of Minworth, were transferred to the parish and borough of Sutton Coldfield. The parish of Minworth consequently ceased to exist. (fn. 8)
The southern boundary of Minworth followed the old course of the River Tame, which has been partly canalized in recent times, and close to Berwood Hall, where there are remains of a moat, was a bridge called Alrenebrigge in 1262. (fn. 9) About here the Tame is joined by the Plants Brook, which flows north and south down the middle of the parish from the extensive Plants Brook Reservoirs of the Birmingham Water Works.
The village of Minworth lies 1 ½ miles west of Curdworth on the Birmingham and Kingsbury road. It is disposed round a green, to the south of the road, all that remains of the 18th-century common. The Church of St. George was dedicated by the Bishop of Birmingham on 23 October 1909, (fn. 10) and the place being in the ecclesiastical parish of Curdworth, the services are conducted by the incumbent there. The Church of St. Mary was built at Berwood, now within the Birmingham City Boundary, to meet the needs of certain persons temporarily occupying Nissen huts in the vicinity. It was dedicated on 17 December 1923, (fn. 11) and was destroyed by fire in 1926. It was rebuilt shortly afterwards, but later became redundant and services were discontinued. (fn. 12)
Minworth possessed a mill in 1346, (fn. 13) and there was one at Berwood during the 15th century. (fn. 14) Remains of a mill on the River Tame are still visible to the south of the Water Orton road about ¾ mile from Minworth.
In 1086 Turchil of Warwick held of the king 4 hides in CURDWORTH, and 1 hide in MINWORTH. (fn. 15) Turchil's possessions mostly passed to the Earls of Warwick, (fn. 16) but Curdworth was probably among the fees of his descendant Hugh de Arderne, as he gave to the Canons of St. Mary de Pré of Leicester inter alia lands in Curdworth to the value of 10s. (fn. 17) In 1236 Avice widow of William de Arderne of Radbourne, who had died in the Holy Land, (fn. 18) claimed land and rents in Curdworth from the Abbot of Leicester as part of her dowry. (fn. 19) Until the end of the 13th century the Radbourne and Ratley lines of the Arderne, or Arden, family seem to have shared Curdworth, but in 1281 Sir Thomas de Arderne of Ratley gave all his lands in Curdworth to the descendant of the Radbourne line, Sir Thomas de Arderne of Hanwell, whose wife Rose transferred them together with those of her husband to her son Ralph de Arderne in her widowhood. (fn. 20) His son Ralph held half a fee in Curdworth in 1316. (fn. 21) Thirty years later his mill at Minworth was said to encroach on the King's highway, (fn. 22) but the jury found in his favour. (fn. 23) He was succeeded by his sons John and Henry. (fn. 24) Sir John de Arderne's daughter Rose married Thomas Pakeson, who was outlawed in 1369; her lands were confiscated, and given to William Walshe to farm, but were restored to her after her husband's death in 1380. (fn. 25) In 1380–1 she conveyed them to her uncle Sir Henry de Arderne, (fn. 26) whose widow Ellen held half a fee at Curdworth in 1400. (fn. 27) This was confirmed to her in 1405–6 (fn. 28) by her son Sir Ralph de Arderne, who died in 1420 leaving his lands to his wife Sybil, with remainder to his son Robert, then a minor. (fn. 29) Robert de Arderne was attainted in August 1452, during the minority of his son Walter. (fn. 30) Curdworth and Minworth were given to Thomas Lytylton and John Gamell to farm for seven years from 29 September 1453. (fn. 31) Thomas Lytylton farmed the lands as late as 1462. (fn. 32) Walter de Arderne recovered part of his property in 1454, (fn. 33) and, according to Dugdale, shortly afterwards regained the remainder including Curdworth. (fn. 34) He died in 1502 and was succeeded by his son John, who was in possession of the manor in 1524. (fn. 35) This John de Arderne is the hero of an oft-repeated romantic legend which describes him as eloping with Alice Bracebridge, a member of a neighbouring family settled at Kingsbury. (fn. 36) Dugdale's account of the affair is, however, more prosaic. (fn. 37) John de Arderne, who held Curdworth of the king as of his manor of Sutton Coldfield, died in 1526, leaving as his heir his son Thomas, then aged forty, (fn. 38) but had settled Curdworth on Thomas's son William and his wife Elizabeth. (fn. 39) William died during his father's lifetime in 1544–5, and ten years later Thomas Ardern settled the manor on his grandson Edward and his wife Mary, possibly on their marriage, (fn. 40) and when Thomas Ardern died in 1563, they inherited the property. (fn. 41) Edward Arden was implicated in the attempt of his son-in-law John Somerville on the life of Queen Elizabeth in 1583, (fn. 42) and was executed on 20 December of that year. (fn. 43) His lands were forfeited to the Crown, in whose hands they remained for a short time. (fn. 44) They were granted to Sir Edward Darcy of Dartford, Kent, a Groom of the Privy Chamber, (fn. 45) whose tenure of the playing-card monopoly is marked by a legal case of considerable fame. (fn. 46) Curdworth was confirmed to him as held of the king of his manor of East Greenwich in 1609–10. (fn. 47) In 1612 he died, and was succeeded by his son Sir Robert Darcy, (fn. 48) who died six years later, when his son Edward Darcy, then 8 years of age, succeeded to his estates. (fn. 49) On 21 October 1632 Edward Darcy married Elizabeth Evelyn, sister of the diarist. (fn. 50) She died on 15 December 1634, and an infant born to her during the previous June followed her to the grave a few days later. (fn. 51) Edward Darcy then married Elizabeth Stanhope, a daughter of the 1st Earl of Chesterfield, (fn. 52) by whom he had four daughters. He died intestate in March 1670, and one-fourth of the manor of Curdworth and Minworth was given to each child. (fn. 53) The eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married William Barnes of the Inner Temple, (fn. 54) and in 1756 their descendant Elizabeth Barnes and others conveyed one-quarter of the manor to John Dickenson and Elisha Millechamp, the incumbents of Curdworth and Coleshill respectively, probably as a trust. (fn. 55) The second daughter, Katharine, married Sir Erasmus Philipps or Phillipps, bart., of Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire, (fn. 56) whose descendant Sir Richard Philipps, bart., and others sold one-quarter of the manor to Andrew Hackett, jun., of Moxhull Hall, Warws., in 1772. (fn. 57) The third daughter Anne married Thomas Milward in Curdworth Church during November 1671, and had two daughters, Anne and Elizabeth. (fn. 58) On 26 September 1702 Thomas Milward and Anne his wife settled one-quarter of the manor on Elizabeth on her marriage to Sir Hugh Clopton of Stratford-on-Avon. (fn. 59) By 1734 Elizabeth Clopton was already dead, and her two daughters being well provided for, it was decided to sell the endowments. (fn. 60) Edward Darcy's youngest child Dorothy married Sir William Rookeby, bart., (fn. 61) and, after his death in 1678, (fn. 62) Thomas Paston son of the 1st Earl of Yarmouth, who was drowned in 1693. (fn. 63) In 1686 they conveyed their share of the manor to the 2nd Earl of Yarmouth and Thomas Anderson. (fn. 64)
In 1742 Charles Adderley of Ham's Hall, Warws., was one of the lords of the manor, (fn. 65) having bought a quarter share either from the Clopton Trustees or from those of Dorothy Paston. This fourth part of the manor has remained in the hands of the Adderley family, being held by the present Lord Norton, and is now represented by the possession of one presentation in four to the church at Curdworth.
One-quarter of the manor came into the possession of Edmund Jordan, gunsmith, of Birmingham, whose son Thomas Jordan died in 1762, leaving his property to be divided equally among his three daughters, Catherine, Frances, and Ann. (fn. 66) The eldest daughter, Catherine, married Lancelot Rutter of Halesowen, (fn. 67) and made a series of mortgages on her inheritance. In 1773 one of the mortgagees, Samuel Swinton of London, deposited the property with his bankers, Messrs. Biddulph, Cocks & Cocks, as a security for a loan. (fn. 68) He bought Catherine Rutter's equity of redemption in March 1785, (fn. 69) and becoming insolvent shortly afterwards, on 25 May 1785 empowered Messrs. Biddulph, Cocks & Cocks to sell the security and reimburse themselves out of the proceeds. (fn. 70)
Frances Jordan on her marriage to Hugh Edwards of St. Ives, Cornwall, in 1774 settled her twelfth part on herself and her husband. (fn. 71) Ten years later they conveyed their share in the manor to Andrew Hackett, jun., of Moxhull Hall. (fn. 72)
Ann Jordan married Thomas Smith of Great Witley, Worcs., and in 1777 conveyed her inheritance to John Derington, surgeon, of Birmingham, in trust for her husband's sole benefit. (fn. 73)
Andrew Hackett doubtless bought the share owned by Messrs. Biddulph, Cocks & Cocks and that of Thomas Smith, which together with the twelfth part he purchased of Hugh and Frances Edwards and the quarter which was conveyed to him in 1772 by Sir Richard Philipps and others, make up the total of onehalf of the manor which he owned in 1791. In this year Andrew Hackett held two parts and Charles Bowyer Adderley and William Wakefield each held one part of the manor. (fn. 74)
The date when William Wakefield bought his share cannot be determined; he may have purchased it from William Ward, who owned one-quarter of the manor in 1780. (fn. 75) This share is now in the possession of his descendant Capt. Wakefield, and is represented by one presentation in four to the church at Curdworth.
Andrew Hackett died in 1815, when his wife Letitia Penelope inherited his interest in the manor. (fn. 76) She married the Hon. B. O. Noel, and died intestate on 18 January 1860, and her only child B. P. G. C. Noel (fn. 77) sold his interest to Thomas Ryland during the 19th century, whose son Thomas Howard Ryland succeeded him. (fn. 78)
The manor of BERWOOD or BERWOOD HALL, though not mentioned as such until the end of the 14th century, (fn. 79) apparently existed at the end of the preceding one. (fn. 80) At some date before 1162 Hugh de Arderne gave the canons of the newly founded Abbey of St. Mary de Pratis at Leicester 'ermitagium et nemus de Berwode cum molendinis et omnibus aliis pertinenciis suis' together with the advowson of the church at Curdworth. (fn. 81) Further grants of land in the neighbourhood were made to the canons by his descendants; in 1224 William de Arderne made them a gift of 24 acres, (fn. 82) and in the time of Abbot Furmentyn (1244–7) his son confirmed Hugh's gift in return for the establishment of two canons at the Chapel of St. Mary at Berewoodhall, to sing masses for his soul. (fn. 83) The chapel was already disused at the beginning of the 15th century. (fn. 84)
In 1285 the Abbot of Leicester claimed view of frank pledge, weyf and streys, &c., 'in his lands of Curdworth' by immemorial custom. (fn. 85) This claim evidently refers to the Berwood lands. (fn. 86) The abbey lost the manor to Sir John de Arderne in 1356–7 but recovered it in 1360. (fn. 87) The manor remained in the possession of the abbey until the Dissolution in 1540, in which year it was sold, as the manor of Berwoodhall, (fn. 88) to Thomas Arden and Simon his son for £272 10s. and an annual rent of £1 10s. 4d. (fn. 89) The manor was settled jointly on Edward Arden and Mary his wife in 1555. (fn. 90) In 1573, on the marriage of his son Robert, Edward Arden conveyed the manor to trustees. (fn. 91) Berwood, therefore, did not share the fate of Curdworth and Minworth, for although it was seized by the Crown on the attainder of Edward and Mary Arden, and was held for a time by Edward Darcy, (fn. 92) after Mary Arden's death in 1601 it was recovered by their son Robert, (fn. 93) who married Elizabeth Corbett, a daughter of one of the Justices of King's Bench, (fn. 94) and was himself 'well read in the Laws'. (fn. 95) It descended to Robert Arden's grandson and namesake, on whose death in 1643 (fn. 96) it went to his sister Dorothy. (fn. 97) She married Hervey Bagot of Blythefield, Staffs., (fn. 98) later of Pype Hayes Hall, Warws. (fn. 99) Their descendant Egerton Bagot was lord of the manor of Berwood in 1754 and 1765, (fn. 100) and his kinsman the Rev. Walter Bagot of Blythefield was lord in 1783. (fn. 101) The Rev. Egerton Arden Bagot of Pype Hayes Hall, Erdington, a son of the latter, was lord in 1819, (fn. 102) but died without issue. (fn. 103) His half-brother the Rev. (Egerton) Ralph Bagot succeeded him. (fn. 104) He died in 1866, (fn. 105) leaving as heir his son William Walter Bagot, then a minor. W. W. Bagot succeeded his father in 1868. (fn. 106) In 1881 he sold 344 acres of land in Berwood to the Birmingham Tame & Rea Drainage Board, (fn. 107) and a further 358 acres were purchased from him by the Board on 29 September 1888. (fn. 108) Manorial rights are not mentioned in the deeds relating to the transaction, (fn. 109) and they were probably extinguished at that time or had previously become negligible.
The manor of DUNTON includes all territory lying between the Coleshill-Lichfield road and the eastern boundary of the parish. (fn. 110) In 1221 Terry de Dunton held 2 hides in Dunton of Sybil de Noiers, and it appears that Matthew de Dunton, his father, had held it of Ralph Pirot, father of Sybil de Noiers, during the reign of Henry II. (fn. 111) There is also an undated deed by which Nicholas de Wichford son of Matthew de Dunton transfers to his brother Matthew certain lands in Dunton. (fn. 112)
In 1251 Hugh de Mancetter received a grant of free warren in his demesne lands in Dunton of the king, (fn. 113) and four years later Walter de Mancetter and Erneburg his wife confirmed a carucate of land in Dunton to Robert de Grendon for conveyance to Philip Lovel, (fn. 114) Treasurer to Henry III, who received a grant of free warren there in 1257. (fn. 115) He died in disgrace at 'Hamestable' at the end of 1259, and the Crown seized his lands. (fn. 116) The manor next came into the possession of Henry Lovel, clerk, from whom it passed to Anketil de Bracebridge. (fn. 117) The latter held 2 virgates in Duntoni n 1276. (fn. 118) The position at this time was probably somewhat obscure, as John son of Hugh de Mancetter laid unsuccessful claim to free warren in demesne lands in Dunton in 1285. (fn. 119) Five years later Ralph de Gorges is mentioned as having cut trees in the wood of the Abbot of Merevale at Dunton, (fn. 120) and he probably was already lord of the manor at the time, although the exact date when he obtained the manor is not known. (fn. 121) The manor descended to his son Ralph, (fn. 122) who according to Dugdale transferred the manor to his uncle John Lovel in 1301–2. (fn. 123) The latter sold it to Hugh de Cuilly, (fn. 124) who died in prison at Pontefract in 1321. (fn. 125) His son Roger de Cuilly in 1327–8 was sued by Ralph de Gorges' widow Eleanor and her second husband John Pecche, claimants to one-third of the value of the manor as Eleanor's dowry. (fn. 126) In 1332 Roger de Cuilly was ordered to pay the sum of £116s. 8d., (fn. 127) one-third of the value of the manor as it appeared by an inquisition of the previous year. (fn. 128) Roger recovered a like sum from the guardians of the warranty, John son of John Lovel, who was then a minor. (fn. 129) Sir Roger de Cuilly, heir to the Roger above, died without issue in 1359 (fn. 130) leaving his uncle Thomas de Cuilly as his heir. (fn. 131) Thomas de Cuilly's daughter Elizabeth (fn. 132) came into possession of the manor at some time before 1377, when she and her husband John Stanhope of Rampton transferred it to John and Joan Waltiers for life. (fn. 133) According to Dugdale Richard Stanhope son of John and Elizabeth sold the manor to Nicholas Rugeley of Hawkshead Staffs., in 1422; (fn. 134) and a Nicholas Rugeley of Dunton was among those sworn not to maintain peacebreakers in 1434. (fn. 135) Nicholas Rugeley, his descendant, died at Dunton on 4 July 1537. (fn. 136) He held the manor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and was succeeded by his son John Rugeley, aged 24 at the time of his father's death. (fn. 137)
The manor remained in the possession of the Rugeley family until 1687, when Ralph Rugeley and Anne Rugeley, widow, conveyed it to John Lilly, (fn. 138) who sold it to the then Lord Leigh on 28 November 1688. (fn. 139) It has continued in the family of Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh, Warws., until the present day.
The parish church of ST. NICHOLAS (fn. 140) consists of a chancel, nave, south porch, and west tower and stands on a rise to the west of the main street of the village.
The chancel and nave were built soon after the middle of the 12th century. They retain some original windows; remains of both nave doorways also survive. They were only a little to the west of midway in the walls, and in the 14th century they were walled up and new doorways inserted in the westernmost bays. The chancel arch is a good example of the period; it is of narrow span, and to increase the view of the high altar from the nave a 15th-century window or squint was inserted south of it and there was also a narrow oblique squint north of the arch, now replaced by a copy of the other. The original nave was only about two-thirds of the present length; it was increased late in the 15th century and the west tower was built. The south porch was added probably at the same time, but was rebuilt above the base in 1800, when the church was in disrepair and much bad restoration was done. The 12th-century windows were blocked, others were deprived of their mullions and fitted with iron casements; lowpitched roofs covered with slates were substituted for the medieval roofs. In 1895 the church was again restored, the windows being restored or opened out and new roofs of higher pitch constructed. The interesting carved font-bowl was then discovered buried below the floor and restored to use.
The chancel (about 27 ft. by 16 ft.) has a 14th-century east window of four pointed lights and intersecting tracery in a two-centred head with an external hood-mould. The jambs and mullions are moulded. In the north wall are two small round-headed windows of the 12th century. The splays and rear-arches are plastered but have angle-dressings and voussoirs with diagonal tooling and bearing masons' marks—an arrowhead. They are also treated with early mural decoration, described below. Opposite the western is a similar window in the south wall. It has a 14th-century priests' doorway below it encroaching partly on its sill. The doorway has chamfered jambs and a pointed head. The south-east window is a 14th-century insertion of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and tracery in a two-centred head with an external hood-mould. The jambs are moulded. The wall is recessed below it for a sedile. The south-west window, which impinges a little on the thickness of the west wall, is of early-15th-century date and has two trefoiled lights and a quatrefoiled circle in a two-centred head with a simple external hoodmould.
The walls are of red and grey stone rubble, mostly squared below the windows, and have slight low plinths. Below the 12th-century sill-levels is a plain chamfered string-course of the same period: under the east window it is dropped about 18 in. and also below the south-east window, where a moulded course is substituted. It is stopped by the south-west window. The upper masonry about the east window is later. At the angles are original shallow clasping buttresses of ashlar, and similar intermediate buttresses below the east window and in the side-walls. There are also remains of original string-courses inside the side walls, grooved and chamfered. Notches about midway were probably cut to receive posts for a lenten veil. At the east end of the north wall is an ancient locker with a modern door. The gabled roof has a modern wagon-head ceiling.
The 12th-century chancel arch has responds of two square orders with edge-rolls, the outer round, the inner keeled. The outer order of the round head, towards the nave, is treated with cheveron ornament and it has a beaded and chamfered hood-mould, the lower ends cut away for the later side-piercings. The other orders have plain edge-rolls. South of the arch the wall is pierced by a small 15th-century opening of two trefoiled lights and a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. On the north side is a modern copy of it that replaced a medieval narrow squint. The wall above the main arch has a modern arched opening through it, for the organ, which is set on a gallery.
The nave (about 66½ ft. by 21½ ft.) has three north windows; the first near the east end is of two lights and tracery in a two-centred head with hood-moulds inside and out. It is nearly all restored, but probably of 14th-century origin. The third, in the 15th-century extension, also of two lights and tracery of 14th-century style, is entirely modern. The second, high up and just west of the first, is a 12th-century light like those of the chancel.
In the bay west of it are two blocked doorways seen only in outline externally. The eastern, of yellow sandstone, is of the 12th century with a round head; the hood-mould has been cut away. The blocking is partly covered by an ancient buttress. The other next west of it, with jambs of large courses of red sandstone, has a pointed head, also with the hood-mould cut away; it is probably of the 14th century.
The three windows in the south wall are traceried in 14th-century style but entirely modern. The first and third are of three lights; under the middle, which is of two lights, are the remains of the 12th-century south doorway, built into a thickened wall and blocked in the 14th century. It consists of the shafted outer order of the jambs with weather-worn fluted or scalloped capitals, and moulded abaci. The masonry above has been cut back to the main wall face and no arch survives, but above the west jamb is reset one voussoir with a carved beak-head. The present south doorway, of the 14th century, west of it, has chamfered jambs and sharply pointed head with a plain hood-mould. The half-round rear-arch is a reused part of the 12th-century doorway, with some remains of early painting.
The walls of the eastern two-thirds are of widejointed rubble like that of the chancel and have 5-in. buttresses of ashlar at the original angles and intermediate. These divide the north side into two bays and the south side into two bays east of the thickened bay of the original doorway, and one bay west of it, now containing the 14th-century doorway. The 15th-century western extension is of large courses of red and yellow coarsely tooled ashlar or squared rubble. Some of the stones are 12th-century material reused. At the west angles are diagonal buttresses carried back more deeply on the west sides to meet the diagonal buttresses of the tower. The open-timbered gabled roof is modern.
The south porch is of red sandstone. The lower parts of the walls and probably the pointed entrance archway are of the 15th century; the remainder, with the roof, of 1800. On the nave wall are chases indicating the former higher roof. There are also three scratched sun-dials.
The west tower is built of large fine-jointed ashlar red sandstone and has a moulded plinth, a string-course at the base of the bell-chamber, and an embattled parapet with carved water-spouts at the angles and plain pinnacles. At the four angles are diagonal buttresses reaching nearly to the parapet. On the west face are carved in fairly high relief four roses, probably a badge of a donor. (fn. 141)
The archway towards the nave is of two orders, the outer sunk-chamfered and continued in the two-centred head, the inner of the common local late-15th-century type with ogee-moulded sides and a broad fillet; it is interrupted at springing-level by moulded capitals; the bases are hollow-chamfered.
The west doorway has moulded jambs, including two small rolls with plain bases but no capitals, and a four-centred head with a hood-mould having large spreading crockets, a foliage finial, and defaced crowned head-stops. The west window is of three trefoiled ogee-headed lights and tracery in a four-centred head; its hood-mould returns as a string-course. In the southwest angle is a stair-vice entered by a four-centred doorway. The second story has deep-set windows of two trefoiled lights under a four-centred head and with transoms. The hood-moulds are crocketed and have stops carved as heads or as monsters. The four windows of the bell-chamber are similar.
In the angle of the east splay of the north-east nave window is a 15th-century niche. It has a trefoiled ogee head in a tall traceried gable which originally had crockets, and a ribbed soffit. It is flanked by buttresspilasters that had pinnacles. The cornice is moulded and embattled and retains one head-corbel. The bracket is defaced. On the ledge of the same window are three loose floor-tiles of the 14th century. One has an alphabet reading from right to left, another the head of a king in a quarter-pattern, and the third a cinquefoil flower. On the ledge of the opposite window are two loose carved stones, one a corbel supported by an angel, probably from the former roof, the other the lower part of a draped image in a niche of the 15th century. Another loose stone with a 12th-century volute lies on the north-west window-ledge.
The 12th-century windows have remains of 13th-century mural paintings, mostly in red pigment. The south window retains most; it has trilobe leaves and tendrils on both faces of the quoins and voussoirs, and just below the springing-level are bands on the plastered splays with remains of Lombardic letters, (east) …AS MAR …S, (west) . . . . E MCI . . . . Below these were figures of saints; the western, faintly visible in yellowred, has the left arm and hand holding a crutch or staff. In the two north windows the leaves and stalks are preserved on the voussoirs and the west splay of the western has the beginning of the band with one letter M but the remainder is obliterated. The north window of the nave has similar foliage and bands with the inscription ASSUMPTIO (east splay) and ANG …LVS (west) and faint traces of figures, probably of Our Lady and St. Gabriel. There are also remains of like foliage on the rear-arch of the south doorway.
The font has a crudely carved bowl of the 12th century, the upper part of square plan with rounded angles, the lower edge circular with a cable edge-roll. The top has been cut down, removing heads and other parts of the carving. On the east face is a Paschal Lamb and below it a grotesque face with open mouth, and two vertical leaves. At the north-east angle in bold relief is the demi-figure of a man, his right hand resting on his hip, his left holding up an object that is now mostly missing. The north side has a winged monster (head gone) and below it three vertical leaves. At the north-west angle is a figure, possibly an ecclesiastic (head missing). On the west and south sides are (each) two figures of men holding books, probably Evangelists. The south-west angle is defaced. The south-east angle has apparently a figure in a cope with hands in prayer. The stem is modern. The base is the inverted bowl of another 12th-century font, roughly cup-shaped with a roll edge at the top. In the porch is a loose square bowl of stone.
In the tower is an early medieval dug-out chest 9 ft. 9 in. long. It has two lids, one a later renewal: it has plain iron straps for hinges and the lock-hasps. North of the altar is a small 17th-century table with turned legs and moulded rails: the top, 3 ft. 10 in. long, is later. An early-18th-century chair has a fielded panel in the back.
Hanging above the south doorway is a cloth (pall or altar frontal?) with the Tudor Royal Arms with lion and dragon supporters and the initials E. R. The Royal Arms in the tower are of 1822 said to have been brought from Rugeley Church.
There are three bells: the first of 1663 by John Martin of Worcester, the second of 1756 by Thomas Eayre; the third is of c. 1500 inscribed in Lombardic capitals: SANCTA MARIA VIRGO INTERCEDE PRO TOTO MUNDO. The communion plate includes a silver paten of 1685.
The advowson of Curdworth Church followed the descent of the manor of Berwood until the attainder of Edward Arden in 1583, when it became attached to the manor of Curdworth. In 1618 the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield collated to the living, and in the following year the king presented Edward Darcy, the patron being at that time a minor in the king's wardship. (fn. 142) On Edward Darcy's death in 1670 when the manor was divided into quarters, each moiety included one-fourth part of the advowson. Thomas Howard Ryland surrendered his two parts of the advowson to the Bishop of Birmingham by an Order in Council dated 15 August 1929. (fn. 143)