If you’re looking for fantastic parkland near Dover in White Cliffs Country, with beautiful open spaces; great children’s play areas; dedicated areas to walk dogs, both on-lead and off-lead; a bright, airy and spacious café with tasty, reasonably priced food; good toilet facilities and stunning surroundings from traditional heritage gardens to informal parkland with ornamental lakes and mature trees – then Kearsney Parks – the collective name for Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens – is the perfect parkland for you to visit.
And now, in recognition of the amazing experience that park-goers to Kearsney Parks are able to enjoy, Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens have been awarded The Green Flag Award®, the first parks owned and managed by Dover District Council (DDC) to receive the prestigious accolade.
Beautiful parkland at Kearsney Parks in White Cliffs Country
The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.
Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens are the most popular, historic parks in Dover. You’ll find Kearsney Parks just over two miles north west of Dover town centre in the Alkham Valley, which is within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Both parks are carefully designed landscapes. The River Dour, a spring-fed chalk stream, flows through the parks. Together with the 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.
Early morning at Kearsney Abbey, White Cliffs Country
In 2020, a £3.1m restoration project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund began, leading to a series of significant improvements to the park, including:
- Restoring Thomas Mawson’s Grade II Listed landscape in Russell Gardens
- Restoring the Grade II Listed Billiards Room in Kearsney Abbey to provide a new community space
- Improving visitor facilities, including a café extension in Kearsney Abbey
- Making the parks accessible to all with new pathways and a Changing Places facility
- Enhancing wildlife habitats, such as opening up culverts to improve fish migration and spawning in Kearsney Abbey, and re-planting the orchard in Russell Gardens
- Restoring the circular lakeside walk in Kearsney Abbey
- Providing a new natural play space in Russell Gardens
- Creating opportunities for people to volunteer in the maintenance of the parks
- Providing facilities for people to learn about parkland heritage and biodiversity
- Developing a range of educational resources linked to the National Curriculum
- Providing apprenticeships for young people to gain horticultural skills
- Bringing new audiences to the parks with events and workshops.
Everyone enjoys a trip to Kearnsey Parks!
Green Flag Award Scheme Manager Paul Todd said: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making the Kearsney Parks worthy of a Green Flag Award.
“To meet the requirements demanded by the scheme is testament to the hard work of the staff and volunteers who do so much to ensure that Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens have high standards of horticulture, safety and environmental management and is a place that supports people to live healthy lives.”
Jennifer Coller, Kearsney Parks project manager, said: “The Green Flag Award is the culmination of ten years of work from preparing the initial National Lottery bid in 2012. It’s been the biggest investment in the parks since they came into public ownership and has involved a huge amount of detailed research and planning. Throughout the project our top priority has been to protect and enhance the parks’ wonderful habitats and heritage.
“Thank you to the park users and neighbours for bearing with us during the works. We hope that the community too will be proud to see The Green Flag flying at the parks.
“The work doesn’t stop, however! We now have a ten-year management and maintenance plan to help keep standards high.”
Find out more about Kearsney Parks' Green Flag Award® and plan your next trip to these stunning White Cliffs Country parks, which offer a fantastic experience for all the members of the family!