The arden is an area of woodland located in Warwickshire, England. It is traditionally regarded as extending from the River Avon to the River Tame.
It is also known as the ‘Forest of Arden’ and is situated next to Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare was born. The forest was also the setting for As You Like It and other plays.
In Shakespeare’s play, the forest was a place of solitude and great beauty. It was named “Arden” because of its association with the poet’s mother, Mary Arden.
A famous monument in the forest is the Coughton Cross, a wayside cross at the southern boundary of the forest where travellers would pray for safe passage before entering. This monument is now a listed building.
There are many other historical and cultural sites in the Forest of Arden. Some of these are listed in the National Heritage list, including Henley-in-Arden, which was one of the first towns to be settled in the forest.
It is a popular tourist destination for those seeking peace and quiet. A number of hotels and country clubs are also in the area.
The forest is home to a large number of wildlife species, most notably the osprey. There are also a number of caves in the forest which are believed to have been used by ancient peoples for ritual purposes.
In the sixteenth century the Forest of Arden was a significant centre of English politics, especially as a base for Robert Catesby’s plot to blow up Stratford-on-Avon during the Gunpowder Plot of 1605; and was a significant site of resistance against the Catholic Reformation. It was also the location of many key engagements during the English Civil War of 1642-1651, including the Battle of Camp Hill and the Battle of Alcester.
Locally, it is home to a variety of historic buildings and landmarks, such as the Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club. The area is renowned for its distinctive Triassic white heterolithic sandstone, which has a deep reddish colour as it contains a high proportion of calcium carbonate derived from the shells of animals that lived in the lake that formed it.
As a result of its historic and natural significance, tourism is an important part of the local economy. The Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club is a popular resort which is known for its awe-inspiring views of the surrounding countryside.
There are also a number of medieval churches and manor houses in the area, including the parish church at Henley-in-Arden and the Castle Church in Solihull.
The Forest of Arden was a major source of timber in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The forest was also a popular hunting ground for bears and wolves.