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Kearsney Parks

Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens are the most popular, historic parks in Dover. They are located 2.5 miles north west of Dover town centre in the Alkham Valley, part of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Alkham Valley Road separates Kearsney Abbey (in the Parish of River) and Russell Gardens which is in Temple Ewell.

Both parks are carefully designed landscapes. Thousands of tonnes of earth were moved and trees planted to create the slopes, woods, water courses and lake. The River Dour, a spring-fed chalk stream, flows through the parks. Combined with ornamental lakes, this gives the parks a picturesque landscape style.

The origins of both parks can be traced back to grand country houses and estates built for prominent local industrialists in the early 19th and 20th centuries.

Kearsney Abbey is laid out in an informal style. Its 10 acres of open parkland and lakes are popular with families.

Although never a monastic estate, the history of Kearsney Abbey can be traced back to the Norman Conquest.

The park as it exists today can be attributed to John Minet Fector, a local banker and merchant, who built a grand mansion on the site between 1820-1822.

Two adjoining ornamental lakes on the course of the River Dour provide a haven for water fowl. Kearsney Abbey also has a fine collection of specimen trees, including Beech, Lime and Yew. A prominent feature is a Cedar of Lebanon which is believed to be one of the oldest specimens in the country.

Russell Gardens is Grade II Listed in the English Heritage Register of Parks & Gardens of Special Historic Interest. It covers 10 hectares and is laid out in a formal style.

Originally known as Kearsney Court Park & Gardens, they were designed by the renowned Edwardian landscape architect, Thomas H. Mawson (1861-1933). Kearsney Court is believed to be one of the first independent commissions by Mawson, and is a very rare example of his work in the south east. Several set piece photographs of Kearsney Court were included in Mawson's book, The Art & Craft of Garden Making, which became a standard reference in its day.

The challenging steep terrain of the Alkham Valley provided Mawson with the ideal opportunity to create his signature design features - great terraces, pergolas and architectural features in a garden context. The magnificent 170m long canal pond, and Palladian-style pergola bridges and boathouse pavilion form the central architectural features of the park.

April 2023 update

The park is bursting into life with spring upon us, the bulbs that were planted in the grand border by the volunteers are flowering, the orchard is in blossom and the nesting season is well under way.

With the continual wet weather, both the lake in Bushy Ruff and the ornamental pond in Russell Gardens are full, and the river is flowing well through the Kearsney lakes.

The main car park in Kearsney Parks is open from 7am until 9pm and is locked overnight. There are additional disabled parking spaces in the parking area alongside the café - which has staff/disabled spaces, and is open from 8am-5.30pm.

The community day/Easter trail went well in April, with over 140 people taking part in the Easter trail, and the Dover District Council teams meeting and chatting to members of the public. Keep an eye out for details of future events in the park on the Kearsney Parks website. 

The café continues to be busy, serving light lunches and lovely home-made cakes. The kiosk will be open at weekends selling a whole range of treats, including drinks and ice creams.

The billiards room is now available to hire for private events, for more information, please see the Kearsney Parks website.

The Great British Spring Clean also went well in Kearsney Parks despite the weather. There was a good turnout to support the initiative, and a big thank you goes out to everyone who helped.


It is a busy time of the year in the park for the wildlife, and nesting season is well under way.

Please be aware of all the birds in the park as they begin their nesting season. There are at least two pairs of swans nesting in the parks and swans can get protective of their nests/mates. There have been some recent incidents with dogs chasing swans and swans getting agitated with dogs when they get too close to their nests/mates.

Please remember that even though dogs are allowed off the lead in some areas of the parks, they must always be under control and kept away from the breeding birds.

Volunteering at KearsneyParks  

Volunteer tasks continue in the parks on a weekly basis. We continue to carry out general maintenance in all three parks, including working on the grand border and orchard in Russell Gardens.

Thanks go out to all our wonderful volunteers, including those who helped out at the Easter event. 

If you are interested in volunteering, and would like to be put on our database, please get in touch at   


There are always great opportunities for taking photos in the park, be it with a camera or on your phone.  

The picture above was taken by Andy Christian.

We are always happy to receive photos taken in the park, so please feel free to send any photos in and we will try to use them, not only in our publications, but also in the Kearsney Parks Calendar. Please send your photos to 

Keep in touch 

If you have any comments or questions, please email us on 

Russell Gardens Play Area Russell Gardens Play Area