The arden is a former forest and culturally defined area that, in antiquity and into the Early Modern Period, encompassed parts of Warwickshire and, to a lesser extent, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire. It was bounded in the Middle Ages by a series of Iron Age hill forts and Roman forts as well as medieval settlements such as Henley-in-Arden, Coleshill and Ulverlei. An ancient mark stone known as Coughton Cross stood at the southern edge of the arden, where travelers would pray for safe passage.
In the 1890s, Edward Harriman purchased 7,863 acres of farmland from Peter Pearse Parrott (1811-1896), an industrialist whose family invented the Parrott Guns and Cannon. Harriman built Arden House, the country’s first and premier conference center, to showcase American excellence.
Harriman and his wife, Mary Williamson Averell, hired many leading architects and artisans to decorate the mansion. The resulting interiors were as exquisite as the exteriors. Murals by (Barry) Francis Barrett Faulkner lined the corridors; a bas-relief of Harriman by James Earle Fraser stood over one of the fireplaces; corbel carvings of bighorn sheep embellished a wall in the music room.
Today, the arden is an active community with three shopping centers within 4.9 miles and five parks. Residents enjoy concerts, musicals and plays, dances, Saturday evening dinners at the Gild Hall and programs throughout the year. During the Fair, residents can shop from nearly 200 exhibitors and sample more than 150 different foods from around the world. Proceeds from the Fair support the Arden Club and the Arden Gild Hall.