Curdworth

Warwickshire

St Nicholas & St Peter ad Vincula

The small round-headed windows, doorways and chancel arch immediately give away the origin of this stone-built country church. This is a substantial survival of a Norman building dating from the mid-12th century, over eight and half centuries old.

Curdworth Church website

The combined parish of Curdworth, Middleton and Wishaw website is Three in One.  

See also A Church near You - http://www.achurchnearyou.com/curdworth-st-nicholas-st-peter-ad-vincula/.

 

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The parish of Curdworth does not lie within the City of Birmingham. Minworth, however, originally part of this parish does.

 

St Nicholas’ church, Curdworth is a substantial survival of a Norman building dating from the mid-12th century with walls, windows, doorways in the nave and chancel and the chancel arch as clear evidence of the earliest structure.

 

Though still clearly visible, the original doorways were blocked up in the 14th century they were walled up and new doorways built at the west end of the nave where they are now.

 

In the 15th century a window south of the narrow round chancel arch was made to give better sight of the high altar - a copy of this was later made on the north side.

 

Late in the 15th century the nave was extended by about a third and the west tower was built. The south porch was probably added at the same time, but this was rebuilt on the old base in 1800.

 

By this time the building had fallen into disrepair and was restored in typical 18th-century fashion. The 12th-century windows were blocked, the 15th-century gothic windows had their mullions removed and were fitted with iron casements, the steep-pitched medieval roofs were replaced by low-pitched slate roofs. The Norman font was buried. A plain square stone font now stands in the porch which may have been its replacement.

 

In 1895 the church was again restored in typical 19th-century fashion with the idea of bringing the church back to its medieval origins. The blocked windows were opened, the missing tracery on other windows was replaced and new roofs of higher pitch were built. The carved Norman font-bowl was then rediscovered buried under the floor and set back in place. 

 

The chancel is essentially 12th-century though altered in the 14th-century. In the north wall are two small round-headed windows of the 12th century, typically Norman. The splays are plastered and decorated but the stone voussoirs are not and the masons' marks of an arrowhead can be made out.

 

There is a similar window in the south wall. Below it a priests' doorway was inserted in the 14th century. The south-west window is early-15th-century. The east window has four pointed lights and intersecting tracery and dates from the 14th century; the stonework above it was rebuilt at that time.

 

The 12th-century chancel arch has carved decoration in a chevron pattern. South of the arch the wall was pierced in the 15th-century opening of two trefoiled lights to allow a better view of the chancel and high altar. This may have replaced a small squint, the like of which remained on the north side until the late-19th-century restoration when a copy of the 15th-century window was made. The wall above the main chancel arch has a late-19th-century arched opening through it, for the organ, which is set on a gallery accessed by a metal spiral stair to the south.

 

The nave has three north windows; the first at the east end, of 14th-century origin, had its tracery removed during the 18th century and was restored in the late 19th century. The second is high up and is a 12th-century light like those in the chancel. The third of two lights in the 15th-century extension is in 14th-century style but is entirely 19th-century. Two blocked doorways seen only in outline on the outside of the north wall. The one with a round head is 12th-century; the other with a pointed head is 14th-century. 

The three windows in the south wall of the nave are traceried in 14th-century style but replaced 18th-century alterations. The first and third are of three lights.

 

Under the middle two-light window, are the remains of the 12th-century south doorway which was blocked in the 14th century. The masonry has been cut back level with the main wall, but above the west jamb is a reset voussoir with a carved beak-head of thre 12th century. West of it the present south doorway was inserted in the 14th century.

 

The walls of the original east end of the nave are of wide-jointed rubble like those of the chancel. The walls of 15th-century extension to the west consist of large courses of red and yellow coarsely tooled ashlar or squared rubble. Some of the stones are of reused 12th-century material. The open-timbered gabled roof is late 19th-century.

 

The font has a carved bowl of the 12th century, the top of which has been cut down, removing heads has a winged monster (head now gone) and at the north-west angle 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. While it is not known when this damage took place, it is consistent with the actions of the puritans from the 16th century onwards. The stem is 19th-century while the base is the inverted bowl of another 12th-century font. In the porch is a loose square bowl of stone.

The 15th-century west tower is built of large fine-jointed ashlar red sandstone and has an embattled parapet with carved water-spouts at the angles and plain pinnacles. On the west face are carved in fairly high relief four roses, probably the badge of a donor.

 

There are three bells. The 3rd bell is the oldest dating from c1500 and was probably cast by a midland fouder. It is inscribed in Lombardic capitals: SANCTA MARIA VIRGO INTERCEDE PRO TOTO MUNDO - Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for all the world.

 

The treble was cast in 1663 by John Martin of Worcester; the second is a bell recast in 1756 by Thomas Eayre I in Kettering.

 

The 17th-century bell frame is of historic interest and was probably installed when the treble was hung. The bell fittings were renewed by James Barwell of Birmingham in 1905 and recent work has been carried out by Gordon Lane of Kingsbury Church to ensure they remain ringable. This is an anti-clockwise ring with the tenor having two ropes to enable it to be tolled.

 

The registers date from 1653 and contain the marriage (6 June 1715) of the famous High Church preacher Dr Sacheverell with Mary Sacheverell of Sutton Coldfield.

 

At the south-east corner of the churchyard is a medieval cross-shaft with a modern head and set in a modern base.

Weblinks

Acknowledgement - See British History Online - Victoria County History of Warwick Volume 4 Hemlingford Hundred ed. L F Salzman 1947 - http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42656

 See also Lionel Wall's website Great English Churches - http://greatenglishchurches.co.uk/html/curdworth.html.

 

See also the Parish Statement 2011 produced for the advertisement for a new priest for the joint parishes of Curdworth. Middleton and Wishaw - http://www.birmingham.anglican.org/upload/pdf/ParishStatementCurdworthMiddletonWishaw.pdf. 

 

This is a Grade II listed building whose record can be found on the

Historic England website - https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1185754.

 

William Dargue 17.03.2012