News People Stephen Hawking to join Newton and Darwin in Westminster Abbey

Stephen Hawking to join Newton and Darwin in Westminster Abbey

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking's ashes will be interred at Westminster Abbey after a private funeral at Cambridge University. Photo: Getty
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Stephen Hawking will join Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin when his ashes are interred at London’s Westminster Abbey later this year.

A spokesman for Westminster Abbey said on Wednesday morning (AEDT) that the celebrated physicist’s ashes will be interred later this year at a special thanksgiving service.

The Dean of Westminster, Reverend John Hall, said it is “entirely fitting” that Mr Hawking’s remains will be placed in the abbey “near those of distinguished fellow scientists”.

Newton was buried inside the abbey in 1727, while Darwin was buried beside him in 1882.

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

“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,” Mr Hall said.

“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.”

• See Stephen Hawking’s extraordinary life in pictures

Mr Hawking, who died last week at the age of 76, was one of the world’s most accomplished physicists.

Widely considered one of the world’s leading scientists, his passing came 55 years after doctors told him he had two years to live after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

His family will hold a private funeral service on March 31 at University of Cambridge’s Great St Mary’s church, the BBC reported.

Mr Hawking undertook his graduate work at Cambridge and was based at the university for decades after.

The author of A Brief History of Time, from 1979 to 2009 he held the post of Lucasian professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663.

–with agencies