Margate, Kent

Historical Description

Margate, a market-town, a municipal borough, a member of the Cinque Port of Dover, and a parish in Kent. The town stands on the N shore of the Isle of Thanet, and has stations on the L.C. & D.R. and the S.E.R. It also has steamboat communication with London, Gravesend, Thames Haven, Boulogne, &c. It is 3 miles WNW of the North Foreland, 5 MNW of Ramsgate, and 72 E by S of London. It was originally a small village called Meregate or Mergate, signifying " an opening or gate into the sea;" it includes the site of another and later small village, called St John or Lucas Dane; and it long continued, even after the junction of the two villages, to be only a small fishing-town and small seaport. It had a wooden pier long before the time of Henry VIII., and it was often an embarking point from England to Holland. The Elector-Palatine and his wife, the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of James I., embarked at it; William III. more than once sailed from it and landed at it; George I. and George II. landed at it; the Duke of Marlborough selected it as his place of embarking and of landing to and from his several campaigns; and the Princess Alexandra of Denmark, on her way to be married to the Prince of Wales, anchored off it in 1863 in order to receive the first municipal congratulations of her adopted country. Margate is recorded to have been in repute " for fishery and coasting trade;" but in the time of Henry VIII., when Leiandwrote, it was " sore decayed." Its houses, even at a later date, like those of Flemish and Scotch fishing towns, were generally mere cottages. Several farmhouses and private dwellings of the time of Edward III., it is said, still remain of antique form. But it began toward the middle of the 18th century to be frequented as a bathing-place; it gradually attracted an increase of visitors by the purity of its air and its firm and smooth bathing-beach; it acquired about 1790, by invention of one of its own inhabitants, the first bathing machines ever used in England; and it has continued to become increasingly attractive till, for many years past, it has been annually frequented by a temporary population of at least 100,000. The influx to it from the metropolis, both by steamers and by railway, is very great, insomuch as to render it practically a suburb of London. It is less aristocratic than some other great bathing resorts, and on that very account has great multitudes both of temporary residents and of flying visitors. There is a grotto, with shell-work in floreated patterns lining its whole extent, and ending in a groined room, in which it is said a Roman altar was found when the cave was accidentally discovered several years ago, which seems most probably to be of Roman origin. No other explanation seems possible of the character of the cement in which the shellwork is embodied. Another object of interest is of ecclesiastical origin, namely, Salmstone Grange, or, as it was once called, " Rectory." These buildings and ruins are situated outside Margate, and consist of the ancient hall, chapel, and dormitories and kitchens of the abbots of St Augustine, Canterbury, who were owners of the rectorial tithes of the parish of St John, and who lived here part of the year whilst collecting them. The ruins are in a good state of preservation, especially the chapel, which dates from 1230, but which succeeded one on the same site that had become decayed.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient County Kent
Ecclesiastical parish Margate St. John the Baptist
Lathe St. Augustine
Liberty Dover
Poor Law union Isle of Thanet

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Margate from the following:


Online maps of Margate are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Kent newspapers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Kent, 1619 is available on the Heraldry page, as is also The Visitation of Kent, 1663-68.