Herbert Howells

The ashes of composer Herbert Norman Howells, C.H., C.B.E., D. Mus. are buried in the north choir aisle of Westminster Abbey, near the graves of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The simple stone, unveiled in 1985, reads:


He was born on 17th October 1892 at Lydney in Gloucestershire, one of several children of Oliver Howells, handyman, and his wife Elizabeth (Burgham). He was educated locally and studied piano at Gloucester Cathedral and was later apprenticed with Ivor Novello and Ivor Gurney. Then he studied under Sir Charles Villiers Stanford and Hubert Parry at the Royal College of Music. Despite ill health he was appointed assistant organist at Salisbury Cathedral in 1917. In 1920 he married Dorothy Dawe (d.1975) and taught at the Royal College of Music. They had two children, Ursula who became an actress and Michael who died of polio. Hymnus paradisi was written in his son's memory. His church music includes the 'Gloucester' service and the 'Westminster service', which together with his Collegium Regale are often sung at the Abbey. His introit Behold, O God our defender was sung at the 1953 coronation. For many years he was director of music at St Paul's Girls School and was a professor of music at London University. In 1972 he was made a Companion of Honour and died on 23rd February 1983 in London.

Further reading

"Herbert Howells. A centenary celebration" by Christopher Palmer, 1992

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


17th October 1892


23rd February 1983


Musician; composer


North Choir Aisle

Memorial Type


Herbert Howells
Herbert Howells grave

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