|This article was released by DDC on 5th May 2021|
It was on 5th May 1861 the celebrated landscape architect Thomas Hayton Mawson was born. To mark the 160th anniversary of his birth we’re celebrating Mawson’s remarkable life and works, including our Lottery funded restoration of Russell Gardens.
Thomas Mawson was a leading exponent of the Arts & Crafts Movement and a founder of modern landscape architecture. He was commissioned to design the gardens at Kearsney Court by Edward Barlow (1855-1912) Chairman of Wiggins Teape the paper making business at Buckland Mill.
Kearsney Court Gardens (renamed Russell Gardens in 1951) is a rare example of Thomas Mawson’s work in the south east, and one of his earliest independent commissions (c.1901). Several set-piece photos of the gardens appear in Mawson’s famed book, The Art & Craft of Garden Making.
Thomas Mawson took a structural/architectural approach to garden design with planting subordinate to structure. This approach can be clearly seen in Russell Gardens with Mawson’s signature features – terracing, canal pond, boathouse and pergola bridges – focal points of the park.
Thomas Mawson went on to work on many prestigious garden, park and civic space projects across the world, including America, Canada, and Europe. In 1908 he won a competition to design the Peace Palace Gardens at The Hague.
Such was Thomas Mawson’s influence that in 1923 he became the President of the Town Planning Institute, and in 1929 the first President of the Institute of Landscape Architects.
Kearsney Court Gardens were acquired by the then Dover Rural Council in 1951 and this year celebrate 70 years as a public park. The park was renamed Russell Gardens after Cllr Hilton Russell who was instrumental in acquiring the land and preserving Mawson’s original design.
Today, Russell Gardens is Grade II Listed in the Historic England Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Thanks to Lottery players we’re completing a £3.1m restoration so that even more people can enjoy the splendour of Thomas Mawson’s landscape.