A new website (www.kearsneyparks.co.uk) designed by Dover District Council is showcasing the district’s most popular parks following completion of a £3.1 million programme of improvements at Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund.
The website, which also covers Bushy Ruff, helps people to plan their visit and explore the upgraded visitor facilities, learn about the history, flora and fauna of the parks, keep up to date with the latest news, and find out ways to get involved through volunteering.
Designed to be viewed on a range of devices, from smartphones and tablets to desktop computers, the website is also accessible for a range of user groups and is screen-reader friendly.
Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens are the most significant heritage parks in the Dover district. Russell Gardens is Grade II listed in The Historic England Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, whilst Kearsney Abbey contains many Grade II listed features and is the most popular public park in the district. Both parks are highly valued by the community and attract a significant number of visitors from outside the district.
The ‘Parks for People’ project funded by the National Lottery saw a major programme of restoration of natural and built heritage throughout the parks, along with improvements to visitor facilities. This includes:
- Restoration of Thomas Mawson’s c.1900 landscape design for Russell Gardens
- Restoration of the Grade II Listed billiards room in Kearsney Abbey
- A new café and visitor facilities building in Kearsney Abbey
- Recreating the circular lakeside walk in Kearsney Abbey including a new bridge
- Opening culverts to improve natural habitats in the River Dour, a rare chalk stream habitat flowing through the parks
- Improving access throughout the parks, including a Changing Places facility
- A programme of educational resources and activities linked to the National Curriculum
Cllr Oliver Richardson, Cabinet Member for Corporate Property, said: “We know that for many first-time visitors and people new to the area, the website is often the first place they turn to for information. It’s a great way to promote these fantastic public parks.”