Ruardean is a village in the district of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England, located to the west of Cinderford. It is situated on a hillside with views west towards the mountains of South Wales. Little now remains of the village's industrial history, but once it was a centre for iron ore smelting furnaces, forges and coal mines. The Norman castle, now little more than a mound, commanded the shortest route from Gloucester Castle to the Welsh Marches and the Wye Valley.
The village has been, in times past, an important centre of iron and coal mining, though little evidence remains of this aspect of the village's history. The main historical landmark of the village is Ruardyn Castle, near to the parish church. In the past the village was spelt as Ruardyn and was part of Herefordshire. Nowadays the village lies inside Gloucestershire and is part of the Forest of Dean district. Like much of the surrounding area, Ruardean has historically been relatively poor; the 1831 census records 127 families, with half the population employed in agriculture and 160 people on poor relief.
Today, St. John the Baptist's Church, dating from 1111 AD, is the village's centrepiece and main landmark, including a nave, chancel, tower and spire added in the 14th century and a chapel added in 1798. A manor house which once stood in the field behind the church was crenellated in 1310 to become Ruardyn Castle but this was largely destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's troops in the English Civil War.
Ruardean's Congregationalist minister in the early 19th century was Reverend John Horlick. His relatives, James and William, were born in Ruardean and are today known worldwide for their hot malt drink Horlicks. The shed in which they first developed the technique of producing dried milk with malt, in the 1860s, still stands behind the Malt Shovel public house on the high street.
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