The funeral of Professor Stephen Hawking, mourned across the world after his death last week aged 76, will take place at Great St Mary’s, the University Church in Cambridge, on Easter Saturday, his family announced today. His ashes will be interred in Westminster Abbey at a Service of Thanksgiving later in the year.
St Mary's is just a stone’s throw from Gonville & Caius, the Cambridge College where Professor Hawking was a fellow for over 52 years. Family, friends and colleagues are being invited to the private service, taking place at 2pm on 31 March 2018.
Professor Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said they had chosen to hold the funeral in Cambridge in recognition that it is “the city that he loved so much and which loved him”.
In tribute to the fact that both religious and non-religious people had been affected by their father’s work, the service would be “both inclusive and traditional, reflecting the breadth and diversity of his life”.
A private reception will be held afterwards at Trinity College, also close by.
Westminster Abbey has announced that there will be a Service of Thanksgiving later in the year for Professor Hawking, during which his ashes will be interred in the Abbey near the grave of Sir Isaac Newton.
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said: "It is entirely fitting that the remains of Professor Stephen Hawking are to be buried in the Abbey, near those of distinguished fellow scientists. Sir Isaac Newton was buried in the Abbey in 1727. Charles Darwin was buried beside Isaac Newton in 1882. Other famous scientists are buried or memorialised nearby, the most recent burials being those of atomic physicists Ernest Rutherford in 1937 and Joseph John Thomson in 1940. We believe it to be vital that science and religion work together to seek to answer the great questions of the mystery of life and of the universe."
In a statement, Professor Hawking’s children said:
‘On behalf of our whole family we want to express our huge gratitude for all the wonderful tributes to our father and to those who have sent us messages of condolence.
‘Our father lived and worked in Cambridge for over 50 years. He was an integral and highly recognisable part of the university and the city. For this reason, we have decided to hold his funeral in the city that he loved so much and which loved him. Our father’s life and work meant many things to many people, both religious and non-religious. So, the service will be both inclusive and traditional, reflecting the breadth and diversity of his life.
‘We would like to thank Gonville & Caius College, the University of Cambridge and Trinity College, Cambridge for their assistance with our father’s funeral service.’
Several thousand people have visited Gonville & Caius since Professor Hawking’s death to sign a book of condolence. This and an online version of the book contain thousands of heartfelt messages from well-wishers all over the world.