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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 2024 update

Happy couples can now celebrate their wedding day at the historic Billiards Room at Kearsney Abbey. 

In January, the Grade II listed venue was granted a licence to host wedding ceremonies for up to 40 people and it has now been licensed to offer receptions, including an evening bar and entertainment, until 10pm. For more information about hiring the Billiards Room, please see 

Despite the cold and wet weather, the park is bursting into life with spring upon us.  The orchard is in blossom and the nesting season is well under way. Unfortunately, the water levels are still high in the parks, so the lower pathway in Russell Gardens remains closed.  We will reopen it as soon as the water subsides, and the pathway is safe.

The main car park in Kearsney Parks is now open summer hours 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 Easter Trail/Community Day went well in March, with over 200 people taking part in the Trail. White Cliffs Countryside Partnership, RSPB and Kent Wildlife Trust also came along and there were crafts in the Billiards Room. A big thank you goes out to all our volunteers, and to everyone who helped out and who came along on the day.

The café continues to be busy offering its popular homemade treats to eat in as well as a range of items to take away. The Kearsney kiosk will be open at weekends from early May until the end of October selling a whole range of treats, including drinks and ice creams.


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.

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.

Forthcoming Events

A free 'riparian owner' workshop for people whose property backs onto the River Dour is being held in the Billiards Room at Kearsney Abbey on 26 April from 10.30am-12:30pm. For details, or to book a place, please see the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership website here

Temple Ewell Art Workshop, with River Art Group, is holding an Art at the Abbey exhibition in the Billiards Room at Kearsney Abbey on 6 July from 9am-5pm, and on 7 July from 9am-4pm.  For more details, please see

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. 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 parks, be it with a camera or on your phone.  We are always happy to receive photos taken in the parks, so please feel free to send any photos in and we will try to use them in our publications, including the Kearsney Parks Calendar, and on our social media.

Please send your photos to

Russell Gardens Play Area Russell Gardens Play Area