Select Arden Miscellany

Here are some Arden stories and accounts over the years:

Thorkell of Arden

The Ardens were of Saxon origin.  Thorkell of Arden was a Saxon thane who held the town of Warwick when William the Conqueror came to England.  He did not support King Harold in the ensuing conflict (some called him the “Traitor Earl”).  As a result, he was allowed to keep his lands, although Warwick castle did go to one of William’s Norman knights.  The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded him as holding the manor of Wolfhamcote in Warwickshire.

The Arden Line in Warwickshire

Aelfwine, sheriff of Warwickshire
died before 1087
Thorkell of Arden
died around 1100
Siward de Arden, of Curdworth
flourished in ealy 1100's
Henry de Arden, of Curdworth
died after 1156
Wiiliam de Arden, of Radbourn

William de Arden, of Radbourn
died around 1233
Sir Thomas de Arden, of Hanwell, Oxon. 

Ralph de Arden
died after 1290
Ralph de Arden, of Curdworth

Sir Henry de Arden, of Park Hall
died around 1400
Sir Ralph Arden, of Park Hall
died in 1420
Robert Arden, of Park Hall
executed in 1452
Walter Arden, of Park Hall
died in 1502
Sir John Arden, of Park Hall
courtier of Henry VII who died in 1526
Thomas Arden, of Park Hall
died in 1563
Edward Arden, of Park Hall
executed in 1583
Sir Henry Arden, of Park Hall
died in 1616
Robert Arden, of Park Hall
died in 1635
Robert Arden, of Park Hall
died in 1643

The senior Arden Park Hall line became extinct in 1643.

Arden of Faversham

Arden of Faversham is an Elizabethan play which depicts the murder of Thomas Arden by his wife Alice Arden and her lover and their subsequent discovery and punishment.

The play was based on real people.  Thomas Arden was a successful businessman of the early Tudor period.  Born in 1508, probably in Norwich, he took advantage of the tumult of the Reformation to make his fortune, trading in the former monastic properties dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538. 

However, his wife Alice had taken a lover and they plotted to murder her husband.  After several bungled attempts, Arden was finally killed in his own home on 14 February 1551.His  body was left out in a field during a snowstorm, the murderers hoping that the blame would fall on someone who had come to Faversham for the St Valentine's Day fair. The snowfall stopped, however, before the killers' tracks were covered and the tracks were followed back to the house. Bloodstained swabs and rushes were found and the killers quickly confessed.

Alice and her lover were put on trial and convicted of the crime.  He was hanged and she burnt at the stake in 1551.

There is a plaque at Thomas Arden’s house on Abbey Street in Faversham (which still stands) commemorating him: 

“Here lived Thomas Arden (Mayor 1548, Comptroller of the Port of Sandwich and customer of Faversham) and herein on February 15, 1551 he was murdered at the instigation of his wife.  This house is immortalized in the Elizabethan drama Arden of Faversham.

The Courtship of Mary Arden and John Shakespeare

John's father, Richard, was a tenant farmer who lived in Snitterfield and grazed his animals, on various sections of land nearby. Some of this land belonged to Mary's father, the wealthy Robert Arden of Wilmecote.  Son John initially started work as a farmer with his father before making a move to Stratford.

Mary and John, the Bard's parents, would have had various opportunities to meet and start their courtship. Their courtship would not have been without problems as John was only of yeoman stock and Mary was part of the aristocracy.

It is extremely doubtful that Mary's father would have approved of the liaison.  But Robert Arden died in 1556.  Convention decreed that any marriage in the Arden family could take only place after the mourning period of one year.  So it was that Mary Arden, the heiress, and John Shakespeare, the yeoman, married in 1557 to become the Bard's mother and father.

George Arden's Duel

Arden was a member of the newly-formed Melbourne Club.  In 1839, a year after his arrival in Melbourne, he dueled with fellow club member Barry Cotter on the racecourse at the foot of Batman’s Hill.  Dr. Cotter was the challenger.  So it must be assumed that Arden had given offence.  Cotter’s bullet hit the hat of his second and then Arden fired intentionally wide.  However, after the duel, Arden either resigned or was expelled from the club.

Eunice Quedens aka Eve Arden

Allegedly inspired in 1934 by a container of Elizabeth Arden cold cream in her dressing room, Eunice Quedens reinvented herself as Eve Arden. Several successful appearances in the annual Ziegfeld Follies followed and her film career was launched. 

In July 1948 she starred in the popular radio situation comedy Our Miss Brooks. 
She was a sensation. Her performance inspired letters from thousands of real-life teachers and led to speaking engagements before the PTA and other educational groups. The show lasted from 1948 to 1957 on radio, with overlapping success on television from 1952 to 1956.

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