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.
May 2022 update
On April 9, as part of the Great British Spring Clean campaign, we had 15 volunteers litter pick in the park and collected a total of 13 bags. Thank you to everyone involved.
The gates on the main car park are currently closed from 7pm to 7am. The café/disabled car park is closed from 5.30pm until 8am. We are looking to extend the hours as the evenings get longer. For the latest information, please see updates on Keep Me Posted, or see the information boards in the car park.
The café is open for both take away and eat in. It opens from 9am until 5pm, indoors open from 9.30am.
Kearsney Abbey & Russell Gardens
The spring bulbs have now faded but the parks continue to look lovely with blossom on trees in the park, including the fruit trees in the orchard.
The herbaceous plants in the long border in Russell Gardens are beginning to grow and we look forward to a colourful summer border.
Kearsney Parks 2023 Calendar
The 2022 Kearsney Calendar sold well both online and at the café. We are now looking for photos for the 2023 calendar. If you have any photos that you feel will be suitable, please do send them in. At the moment, we are looking for photos for April/May and June. In order for us to display these photos, the preferred format is landscape.
Please email any photos to email@example.com
The lovely picture of the duckling above was taken by Steve Elks.
The parks continue to be a haven for wildlife, and there are lots of ducklings, baby coots and moorhens to be seen.
Please do not feed the wildfowl bread, they like bird food, peas, sweetcorn, oats and chopped up lettuce. There is also duck food for sale in the café.
Please continue to be aware and watch out for the wildlife when you are visiting, and ensure your dogs are under control and on their leads in the designated areas of the park.
Volunteering at Kearsney Parks
Volunteering tasks continue in Kearsney Parks.
We are continuing with general maintenance within the parks, including on the long border in Russell Gardens and on Coxhill Mount. If you are interested in volunteering, and would like to be put on our database, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep in touch
If you have any comments or questions, please email us email@example.com