Dr Arthur Rowe was born in Margate in 1858 and practised as a GP and surgeon until he retired at the age of 51 to concentrate on his other interests, microfossils, the formation of chalk and local history and archaeology in Margate.
Rowe took a great interest in archaeological discoveries that were made as the town of Margate expanded and he was responsible for recording a number of Anglo Saxon burials during roadworks at Half Mile Ride, next to the present cemetery and Council Tip, in 1922; excavating the Iron Age settlement and Roman building found whenTivoli Park Avenue was being constructed in 1924 and recording a number of burials that were eroding from the cliffs at Westgate in 1925.
Rowe was a contemporary of Howard Hurd who had carried out archaeological research in Broadstairs and the two men corresponded by postcard while Rowe was excavating the Tivoli Villa, with Hurd offering Rowe advice on his excavation.
Rowe died of an untreated tooth infection in 1926, while working on a report of his excavations. On his death he bequeathed his collection of Margate books, pictures and prints to the corporation of Margate and his collection of archaeological artefacts, mainly pottery, to the British Museum.
Arthur Rowe’s Margate collection formed the Rowe Bequest and various parts of the collection are to be found in Margate Library’s Local Studies Collection and at the Margate Museum.
Part of the archaeological collection in the Rowe bequest was probably built up by Arthur Rowe’s father, Thomas Smith Rowe, who is less well known than his son but passed on an interests in local history to his son. Thomas Smith Rowe was also a Doctor and Surgeon and was well respected in Margate. Amongst other appointments he was Senior Visiting Surgeon to the Royal Sea Bathing Infirmary and Honorary Surgeon to the Alexandra Orphanage and Victoria Hospital for Children . Thomas Rowe also took part in the formation of the Margate Centre of St John’s Ambulance Association in 1879.
Dr T. Smith Rowe died in 1907 aged 82.
Moody, G. 2008. The Isle of Thanet from Prehistory to the Norman Conquest. The History Press, 20.
Perkins, D. R. J. 1987. The Jutish Cemetery at Half Mile Ride, Margate: A Re-appraisal. Archaeologia Cantiana CIV, 219-236
With thanks to Bob Pantony for his research on the Rowe Bequest presented in a lecture in 2012 celebrating 25 years of the Trust for Thanet Archaeology.