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Kearsney Abbey

Following the Norman Conquest, the Manor of Kearsney was  granted to a Shropshire landowner, Jeffrey de Say, in exchange  for men from his estates to help maintain and garrison Dover  Castle. It passed through various other owners before coming  into local hands. Its first local owner was Ralph Tokes, Mayor of Dover from 1445-1449, and Member of Parliament for Dover  three times. In 1790 the estate was purchased by the Fectors, local  merchants and bankers, for the sum of £72,000. In 1820 John  Minet Fector (who was later to become Member of Parliament  for Dover) decided to have a more spacious and impressive  building erected, which was completed by 1822. Much of the  dressed stone work was acquired from old buildings which had  been demolished for road widening in Dover, and possibly also  from the mediaeval town wall and gate houses. John Minet  Fector misleadingly called his new home 'Kearsney Abbey'  despite the fact that it had never been a monastic building. After John Minet Fector's surprise defeat in the mayoral election of 1837, the family decided to sell the estate and move away  from the area. The property changed hands a number of times  during the latter half of the 19th century and the first half of  the 20th, and was used at various times as a private boarding  school, an Augustinian convent and a nursing home, as well as  a private residence. The last private owners were the Collier family, who owned it  until the beginning of the Second World War, although they had made several attempts to sell the property before the war. In  1937 the estate was listed as comprising area of over 27 acres, the Abbey itself, laundry, dairy, orangery, stables and garage,  10 cottages, farm buildings and parkland.  At that time the  accommodation with in the Abbey itself consisted of a hall,  dining, drawing, breakfast and billiards rooms, library, study,  boudoir, 15 bed and dressing rooms, and 4 bathrooms.   During the Second World War the War Department  commandeered the Abbey for use as an A.T.S. operations  establishment and H.Q. of No.2 Searchlight Regiment. After the  war Dover Borough Council bought the Abbey and 25 acres of  land for the sum of £10,000. In 1959 the advanced stages of  dry rot were discovered in the house and it was demolished,  except for the billiards room which survives as a café. The  Abbey grounds were greatly improved in the mid 1970s and it  now provides a fine public park on the outskirts of the town.
Kearsney Abbey c.1905.  The view across the lake. Kearsney Abbey c.1900.  The billiards room, which still stands, is the white section of the house with the four ground floor windows at the left hand end of the building. Kearsney Abbey, the billiards room c.1900. This room still survives as a café.