Kingsnorth Gardens is an ornamental town park, a picturesque garden harking back to the 1920s within easy reach of Folkestone town centre
The gardens were opened in 1928 and are a mix of oriental, Italian and English garden styles. The gardens have a number of significant features including:
- specimen trees including Acers with unique shrimp-pink spring foliage
- ornamental ponds with fountains, water lilies, fish, frogs and newts
- statues, including an oriental lantern, Sir Jeffrey Hudson and Pan
- seasonal bedding displays
- a rockery
The central feature is a magnificent weeping ash tree with seating beneath it.
Accessing the gardens
There are four entrances:
- near the college on Kingsnorth Gardens
- Castle Hill Avenue
- Shorncliffe Road
- Cheriton Road
The nearest public toilets are a short walk away at Radnor Park on Cheriton Road.
The history of the gardens
Origins of the site
The name 'Kingsnorth Gardens' can be attributed to John Kingsnorth (once a tenant farmer at Ingles Farm) excavated the former site of Kingsnorth Gardens to produce material for bricks for local building projects.
The kilns were near the railway arch that spans Cheriton Road.
Later, the site became allotments but then became a landfill site.
Regeneration as possible site for a town hall
People started to complain to the town council, which began to think of ways of developing the area, perhaps as a site for a town hall.
The town hall idea proved too costly, so the idea of an ornamental garden started to emerge.
Development of the gardens
The Parks Committee received instructions to proceed with the creation of a garden. Work was planned by Mr G E Roden, parks superintendent at the time.
The work began in 1926 with a workforce of unemployed men and a budget of £3,500.
The design was typical of the time, a blend of garden styles from Oriental to Italianate, suffused with English eccentricity. The upper garden was to consist of a shelter and terrace overlooking the rose garden.
Pergolas were erected for the climbing roses, providing shaded walks where the sight and scent of the roses could be appreciated at eye level. Over 2000 roses were planted. The central garden consisted of lawns and formal ponds - two large and two small, the large two complete with fountains, waterlilies and goldfish.
The centrepiece was the stunning weeping ash tree, which was transplanted from its' original location in Sandgate Road.
The lower garden was largely laid to lawn with a combination of formal flowerbeds and the stunning acers (Acer pseudoplatanus 'Brilliantissimum') with their unique shrimp-pink spring foliage.
There are various stone features, including an oriental lantern and statues of Sir Jeffrey Hudson and Pan located in the gardens.
The perimeter of the site was strengthened with planting of more ornamental trees and shrubs and herbaceous borders laid out around the outer path network. 500 groups of 12 plants formed the herbaceous borders, taller plants at the rear of the border and lower plants towards the front.
The rockery which used to show cased alpines is now displaying low growing perennials and shrubs.
Due to disease and poor soil, the rose garden has been removed and there are exciting plans to re-design the area in a more modern, sustainable manner.
Today the shelter has been removed with only pergolas remaining. Local college students are working hard on recreating this area with an oriental theme in mind. It will once again become an area to sit, view, reflect and enjoy.