There have been people living in this
area for many years, as archaeological remains show.
Flint tools dating from c.2000 BC have been found, in
Lousyberry Wood are the remains of three Bronze Age
bowl barrows (1800-550 BC), and there have also been
Roman finds in the area. The written history of River
is a little more sketchy. The Domesday Monarchorum,
a survey of Saxon churches prepared just after the Norman
Conquest, lists the nearby village of Aewellan (Temple
Ewell) as having two churches. It seems likely that
River and Ewell were listed together, and the presence
of a church would suggest a Saxon settlement.
The first concrete evidence of the church
at River comes from a manuscript dating from 1208, in
which King John granted the church of St Peter the Apostle
at Ryveris (River) to the Abbot of St
. The dedication of the church has
been changed a number of times, first to the dual dedication
of St Peter and St Paul, the name of St Paul later being
dropped only to be reinstated again in 1876. Little
is known of the original church, records form 1665-6
show that the building had deteriorated and had partially
fallen down and was no longer fit for services. It was
repaired during the 1680s.
Old River church, c.1800.
River church, c.1900.
By the early 19th century the old church had become
too small for the growing parish and enlargement was
first suggested in 1822. The original idea did not
get off the ground but the subject was raised again
1829, and this time found favour. Work began in 1831,
the old church was demolished and the new one built
on the same site. The new church was consecrated in
September 1833. It was restored in 1876, when an apsidal
chancel was added. In the 1990s the church was further
enlarged and the old church hall replaced.
During the 19th century the village
began to attract some of the wealthier citizens of
Dover who wanted to live outside the town. With the
arrival of the London
Chatham and Dover Railway
in 1861 and the opening
of Kearsney Station, the way was cleared for early
The village continued to expand from its old centre
until it included the adjacent areas of Crabble and
Kearsney. In 1903 the greater part of the parish was
absorbed into the Borough of Dover, and in 1905 the
was extended to a terminus at Minnis Lane.
Cottage on the corner of Minnis Lane and River Street,
Crabble, looking downstream from Crabble Corn Mill.
Mills in River
There is some evidence of corn milling
being carried out in the village as early as 1227,
although the location of the mills is by no means
certain. A document dating from 1472 refers to the
leasing of two mills in River. Kearsney Mill in the
grounds of Kearsney Manor was probably built on the
foundations of the mills referred to in 1472. Another
mill was built in the mid 19th century near to Kearsney
Abbey, which used the branch of the Dour which flows
in from the Alkham Valley. River Paper Mill was a
substantial corn mill in the mid 17th century. The
present Crabble Corn
is known to stand on the site of at least
two earlier structures.
The first mention of this mill is
in the Universal British Directory of 1791 which describes
it as "lately erected", this was confirmed during
modernisation work which uncovered a keystone inscribed
1788. In 1895 the mill was taken over by Wiggins Teape
& Co, the owners of Buckland
. Damaged by a shell during World War
2, the mill was repaired but after the war was only
used as a storage depot. It has now been devloped
for residential purposes with some individual houses
and loft-style appartments in the old mill buildings.
River, c.1900. Behind the church can be seen the chimney
of River Paper Mill.
This mill, which stood at the bottom
of Minnis Lane, below the church, is first mentioned
as a paper mill in a sale document of 1689. The mill
continued in operation until it was finally closed
down and scrapped in 1918. The river Dour now flows
through the ruins of the old mill, making a picturesque
entrance to Kearsney
from Minnis Lane.
As Dover and the surrounding villages
began to expand at the beginning of the 19th Century,
the need for bricks increased, this need prompted the
start of the brick industry in the village. The earliest
reference to brick making comes from the parish registers,
which list occupations in the baptism and marriage entries.
Philip Awles is identified as a brick maker in 1814.
The last references from the same source are William
Brockman and John Lawerence, both listed as brick makers
in 1903. The brickfields have now been totally levelled
and houses stand where clay was dug and bricks were
fired, this was in what is now the Lewisham Road area.
The village has expanded well beyond
its original centre and now forms one continuous built-up
area with Dover. In the 1930s what had been the old
tram track, running across open fields to the village,
was developed and became Lewisham Road. Since the Second
expansion has continued apace with large
new housing developments stretching up the hills from