Kearsney Abbey, Russell Gardens and Bushy Ruff are popular, historic parks in Dover, located in the Alkham Valley and part of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Kearsney Abbey and Russell Garden parks are carefully designed landscapes. 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 the parks can be traced back to grand country estates built for prominent local industrialists in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The parks have seen multi-million investment as part of the National Lottery ‘Parks for People’ programme which was completed in April 2021.
Russell Gardens – a nationally important garden
Designed by the renowned Edwardian landscape architect, Thomas H. Mawson (1861-1933), Russell Gardens is Grade II Listed in the English Heritage Register of Parks & Gardens of Special Historic Interest.
Several set piece photographs of Kearsney Court were included in Mawson's book, The Art & Craft of Garden Making.
The magnificent canal pond, and Palladian-style pergola bridges and boathouse pavilion form the central architectural features of the park.
Kearsney Abbey is laid out in an informal style, with open parkland and lakes.
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.
As part of the HLF project the old Billiards Room (the only remaining part of Kearsney Abbey building) was re-furnished and a new café built on the side.
Kearsney Abbey also has a fine collection of specimen trees, including Beech, Cedar of Lebanon, Lime and Yew.
Bushy Ruff is at the western end of Russell Gardens and is set around a picturesque lake with footpaths running alongside.
The large lake was created in the late 18th century when the river was dammed to power first one then two paper mills.