Thomas Mawson Revival Underway
A £1m Lottery funded landscape restoration project is underway at Russell Gardens and Kearsney Abbey in Dover, including the revival of Thomas Mawson’s original design for Kearsney Court (now known as Russell Gardens). The landscape restoration is a key part of the £3.1m ‘Parks for People’ funding awarded jointly by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund.
Russell Gardens is a rare example of Thomas Mawson’s work in the south east and is Grade II listed in the Historic England Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. A renowned Edwardian landscape architect, Mawson went on to become the first President of both the Institute of Landscape Architects and the Royal Town Planning Institute.
The works in Russell Gardens include repairs and restoration of many of Mawson’s key architectural features, including formal terracing, a lily pond, and the planting of a new community orchard. There will also be a new play area promoting natural play, enabling families and younger children to interact with the surroundings and enjoy the unique setting of the gardens.
The former mansion house, built for paper mill owner, Edward Barlow, remains a private residence so the terracing works will also include works to ensure the privacy of residents and protect the boundary of the site owned by DDC.
Extensive works are also taking place in neighbouring Kearsney Abbey where construction of a new café extension is already underway. A new terrace will be built in front of the café to increase outside seating space, whilst a new, modern interpretation of the eye catcher bridge will restore the circular walk around the boating lake.
The Western car park in Kearsney Abbey is being extended and there will be improved disabled parking facilities. The new café extension also includes a full Changing Places facility.
At the helm of the restoration project is a Gold Medal winner at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Alistair Bayford, Operations Director at contractors, idverde UK, designed the Family Monsters garden for the Family Action charity. It was named best Artisan Garden at the annual garden show.
Alistair Bayford said: “After the thrill of the Chelsea Flower Show, it’s great to be working on another prestigious National Lottery project at the Kearsney parks. Thomas Mawson is regarded as one of the great landscape architects, so we’re delighted to be working on one of his earliest commissions here in Dover.
“It’s obvious that both Russell Gardens and Kearsney Abbey are much loved community spaces, popular with the local community and visitors alike. We’re delighted to be working with the team at Dover District Council to restore and develop these unique natural and historic parks.”
Cllr Trevor Bartlett, portfolio holder with responsibility for parks and open spaces, said: “It’s great to see the main landscape works underway. We’d like to thank the local community for their support and patience over the months of preparatory work, but now the good things start to happen in the parks!
“Once completed, we’ll have restored the parks to their true glory with better protected heritage, rich biodiversity, and a wide range of activities and events for a diverse range of visitors.”