Stephen Hawking Cambridge funeral announced


Newton (L) and Darwin (R) are buried beside each other in Westminster Abbey.

Professor Hawking died last week at the age of 76, and his passing has been mourned across the world. His family has announced that his funeral will be on Easter Saturday at Great St Mary's, the University Church in Cambridge. It will be a private funeral service.

The church is close to Gonville and Caius College where Hawking had been a Fellow for more than 50 years.

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Professor Hawking passed away peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Lucy, Robert, and Tim said that their father was an integral part of the Cambridge community, both in the city and the university, and added that his work meant a lot to people of different backgrounds, whether scientific or religious.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said it is "entirely fitting" that Professor Hawking's remains will be buried in the Abbey, near the world's most notable and famous scientists.

Professor Hawking will be the first well-known person to be laid to rest in the Abbey since Sir Laurence Olivier in 1989 and joins the likes of Charles Darwin, Elizabeth I, Charles Dickens and Geoffrey Chaucer.

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The decision to give him a place among the nation's greatest scientists is an extremely rare honour.

Other famous scientists buried or memorialised in the Abbey in the heart of London include atomic physicists Ernest Rutherford in 1937 and Joseph John Thomson in 1940.

In tribute to the fact that both religious and non-religious people had been affected by Prof Hawking's work, the service will be "both inclusive and traditional, reflecting the breadth and diversity of his life".

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Another prominent physicist buried at Westminster Abbey is James Prescott Joule, who studied the nature of heat. Chaucer also described a real astronomical event in one of his stories.