Stephen Hawking's ashes will be interred next to the grave of Sir Isaac Newton at Westminster Abbey, it has been confirmed. Professor Hawking, who had motor neurone disease, passed away on 14 March at the age of 76 at his home in Cambridge. His final resting place will also be near that of Charles Darwin, the British naturalist famed for his contribution to the science of evolution. The dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, said: "It is entirely fitting that the remains of Prof 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.
Professor Stephen Hawking will be laid to rest at 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. 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."
A private funeral service is set to take place at Great St Mary's, Cambridge University's Church, on 31 March, Stephen's family has confirmed. The church is close to Gonville and Caius College, where the physicist had been a fellow for more than 50 years. A thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey will be held later in the year. Announcing the funeral arrangements on the college website, Professor Hawking's children Lucy, Robert and Tim said: "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."