Arden, Warwickshire

Arden, Warwickshire

Arden is an area, mainly located in Warwickshire, England, traditionally regarded as stretching from the River Avon to the River Tame. [] Derived from the British Celtic word "ardu", meaning "high land", the area was formerly heavily forested and known as the Forest of Arden. Located in the geographical centre of England, the Forest of Arden was bounded by the Roman roads Icknield Street, Watling Street, Fosse Way, and Salt Road. [ [ Forest of Arden ] ] It encompassed an area corresponding to the north-western half of the traditional county of Warwickshire, stretching from Stratford-on-Avon in the south to Tamworth in the north, and included what are now the large cities of Birmingham and Coventry, in addition to areas that are still largely rural with numerous pockets of woodland (even today, Birmingham has more trees than any other British or indeed European city. [ [ Institutional Web Management Workshop 2004: About Birmingham And The University of Birmingham ] ] ) The most important and largest settlement in the forest was Henley-in-Arden, the site of an Iron Age hillfort.

Thorkell of Arden, a descendant of the ruling family of Mercia, was one of only two native English landowners in the whole of England who were not dispossessed by the Normans after 1066, and his descendants continued to hold land in the area for centuries thereafter. One such descendant was Mary Arden, mother of William Shakespeare. [ [ William Shakespeare's Mother Mary Arden ] ]

The Forest of Arden is stated by Shakespeare to be the setting for "As You Like It"; however, since the play is also set in France, it should not necessarily be thought of as taking place in a real forest in Arden. (According to the "Oxford Shakespeare", Shakespeare's "Forest of Arden" is likely to be an anglicisation of the French Ardennes forest.)

From around 1162, until the suppression of the order in 1312, the Knights Templar owned a preceptory at Temple Balsall in the middle of the Forest of Arden. The property then passed to the Knights Hospitaller, who held it until the Reformation in the 16th century.

Robert Catesby, leader of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, was a native of Lapworth, a village in Arden. It is believed that many local families had resisted the Reformation and retained Catholic sympathies, including Shakespeare's family, whose paternal ancestors were from Temple Balsall.

Towns in the area include:


Further reading


External links

* [ About the Forest]
* [ About Mary Arden]

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