The arden is an area of wooded land in Warwickshire, England, which was once a largely uninhabited forest. It is situated near the geographical centre of England and was bounded by Roman roads, Icknield Street, Watling Street, Fosse Way, and a salt track.
Historically the forest was not subject to forest law, compared with other woodland areas such as Sutton Park and Feckenham Forest. This may have been due to the area’s dense vegetation and a lack of human settlement.
Although the area is not classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the forest itself is a beautiful place. It is the location of a number of medieval towns and villages, including Henley-in-Arden and Tanworth-in-Arden in Warwickshire, and Hampton-in-Arden in Staffordshire.
Arden is also known for the distinctive Triassic white heterolithic sandstone quarried in the area, which features prominently in buildings throughout the area. This sandstone is particularly rich in calcium carbonate (‘lime’) and was used to build many of the homes and structures in the area.
In the eleventh century the Knights Templar held a preceptory in Temple Balsall at the heart of the forest, which later passed to the Knights Hospitaller, who continued to maintain a presence in the area until the Reformation during the sixteenth century. The area was also important in the English Civil War, and several key engagements were fought there.
Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden, was from an area in the arden called Balsall and she also resisted the Reformation, retaining Catholic sympathies. The arden was also the location of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, where Robert Catesby and other plotters attempted to blow up the Royal Exchange at Stratford-upon-Avon with gunpowder, as an attempt to destabilize government.
During the sixteenth century the arden was a hotbed of religious strife and conflict. There were many protests against the government, and a number of locals were killed or injured during these events.
The arden is also famous for being home to Shakespeare, who spent much of his childhood and young adulthood living in Stratford-upon-Avon. The arden was also the setting for several of his plays, including As You Like It and Measure for Measure.
The arden is also home to the world-renowned Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club. This luxury resort offers the perfect backdrop for any occasion, whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend away, or an adventure filled vacation. The arden also is a popular location for weddings and family reunions, thanks to its stunning natural beauty and proximity to Stratford-upon-Avon.