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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom


Early History   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. River Church   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 Radigund's Abbey. 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. 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. Nineteenth Century Expansion   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 commuters.   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 Corporation Tramway was extended to a  terminus at Minnis Lane.   Corn 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 Mill is known to stand on the site of at least two  earlier structures. Crabble Paper Mill   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 Paper Mill.  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 developed for residential purposes with loft-style  apartments in the old mill buildings.   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 Abbey from Minnis Lane.   Brick-making   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.   River Today   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 with new housing and  became Lewisham Road. Since the Second World War expansion  has continued apace with large new housing developments  stretching up the hills from Lewisham Road.  
River Church, 1806. River Church c.1980. Crabble Corn Mill in the 1930s. River, 1905. Behind the church can be seen the chimney of River Paper Mill. Minnis Lane c.1910. The white building beyond the street lamp is River Paper Mill. Lewisham Road, 1937. The old tram tracks have been lifted and the trackbed is being turned into Lewisham Road. Lewisham Road, 1939. The road is completed and houses built. Back to Areas Index