Arden is a region in the West Midlands of England and home to many historic and cultural attractions. It has many notable features that draw visitors from across the country and abroad.
Throughout the area there are many buildings made of Arden Sandstone, a distinctive Triassic white heterolithic sandstone quarried from the Forest of Arden in the county of Warwickshire. The sandstone has a large amount of calcium carbonate (‘lime’), which makes it an ideal building material and is used in many structures within the shire.
The sandstone is also famous for the unique reddish tint it develops over time as a result of a specific type of algae, Trentepohlia jolithus.
Arden is one of the most beautiful and scenic areas in the UK, bordering on the Cannock Chase AONB and Cotswolds AONB. It has long been a popular tourist destination and is the home of several historic buildings, including the National Trust-owned Coughton Court.
It was in the Forest of Arden that William Shakespeare grew up and became inspired to write his plays. In his own day the forests of the shire were much less dense and managed than they are now, but the Forest of Arden still represented a frontier area with a number of dangers, such as bears and wolves.
In the medieval era, as in many parts of England, a number of settlements were established in the area. The most significant were Henley-in-Arden, Coleshill and Ulverlei. The villages of Lapworth, Temple Balsall and Knowle were also important.
The lords of these estates often sought to encourage settlement by offering their tenants the status of free burgesses, which in effect meant they could leave their lands and reclaim them if they were not happy with their situation. This encouraged a new wave of settlement in the eleventh century, as well as being a seignorial incentive to lords who wished to increase their holdings and political power.
During this period, a number of towns were founded in the Forest of Arden, including Henley-in-Arden, Hampton-in-Arden and Tanworth-in-Arden. These towns are still thriving today as they retain their medieval charm and are the home of some of the most notable historical monuments in the UK.
Other notable buildings in the area include the Shakespeare Birthplace Museum and the Royal School of Arts & Science, which is located at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club is another tourist attraction in the area, a former castle which is now a private residence.
The Arden is an area of outstanding natural beauty with numerous lakes, woodlands and rivers running through it. It is a designated UK National Trail and is home to a number of ancient paths that were used by people in the past to travel through the area.