The arden is an area of the English countryside in Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire. The area is traditionally regarded as extending from the River Avon to the River Tame. The forest of arden was once heavily wooded and is considered to have been one of the most important areas in ancient England. However, unlike other forests of the period, the arden was never subject to forest law and so its owners were free to cultivate their land as they wished.
There are several towns in the arden, including Henley-in-Arden, Tanworth-in-Arden and Hampton-in-Arden, as well as many villages. The forest itself contains a number of ancient features. For example, an ancient wayside cross known as the Coughton Cross sits at its southern boundary, and it is said that travellers would pray here before entering the forest in order to ensure safe passage through it.
In the medieval era the arden was occupied by the Knights Templar, who owned a preceptory at Temple Balsall in the forest of arden from around 1162 until their suppression in 1312. There are also a few surviving ruins within the forest, such as the castle of Coughton.
The arden was also an important part of medieval warfare, with several key engagements in the English Civil War taking place within its borders. The arden was a stronghold of Catholic sympathies and many of the key families were from the area, including Robert Catesby, who was a member of the Gunpowder Plot and a native of Lapworth.
Today the arden is an important tourist destination. There are a number of attractions in the area including the Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club complex. The arden is also home to many parks and other green spaces.
Throughout the region, the arden is also home to many historic buildings and monuments. For example, there are numerous castles and manor houses in the area, as well as a number of ancient churches.
These buildings are often carved from the unique triassic white heterolithic sandstone quarried in the arden and used in local construction. The sandstone contains a high level of calcium carbonate which explains the distinctive reddish hue it acquires over time.
A few of the sandstone buildings are open to the public for viewing. These include the Castle of Coughton, St Mary’s Church in Balsall, and the Church of St James in Temple Balsall.
The Forest of Arden is a large national park that covers parts of the western part of Warwickshire and parts of Staffordshire, encompassing some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK. The forest is home to a variety of wildlife, such as deer, and it has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.