The arden is an area of land in Warwickshire, England and straddling the borders of Staffordshire and Worcestershire. It is a densely forested area of woodland and rural countryside, and was formerly known as the Forest of Arden.
The name arden is believed to come from the Brythonic word ardu, meaning “high”, and by extension, “highland.” It was an area whose thickly forested terrain was a contrasting contrast to the flat, open fields of the surrounding region.
Today the arden is a large, well-populated area of Warwickshire with an extensive network of towns and villages. The arden is also a popular destination for tourism due to its historic and natural beauty.
A national park, The Forest of Arden, is situated in the centre of the arden and is a place of great interest for both visitors and residents. It is home to the renowned Arden Academy and the popular Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club.
This historic location is now the focus of a major redevelopment project led by Fulcrum Properties and AEW Capital, which will bring an improved shopping experience to the area. The redevelopment is set to create the region’s premier regional mall and will deliver a superior shopping, dining and entertainment experience to the community.
The arden was the setting for many important events in English history including the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and the Battle of Camp Hill in 1642 – 1651. The arden is also the birthplace of the playwright William Shakespeare.
In the early medieval era, Arden became home to a number of religious and monastic communities. The Knights Templar owned a preceptory at Temple Balsall in the heart of the arden. It was from there that they sent their followers to fight the English Civil War, and it is thought that this was where Robert Catesby, leader of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, was based when he planned the attack on Parliament.
There are several notable buildings in the arden that have been constructed from distinctive triassic sandstone, a type of stone with a distinctive reddish-hue. The sandstone is quarried from the forests of arden and used in local buildings throughout the region, particularly in villages like Knowle and Temple Balsall.
These buildings are of significant historical and architectural value, and provide a valuable source of information about the area’s past. For example, the sandstone was often incorporated into church interiors and is found in most surviving medieval church architecture.
Another arden landmark is the Coughton wayside cross at the southern edge of the forest, where travellers would pray for safe passage before entering it. This arden cross is now owned by the National Trust and still stands on Icknield Street.