A memorial service for eminent physicist, mathematician and author Professor Stephen Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA was held at Westminster Abbey on 15th June 2018. His ashes were interred during the service, not far from the graves of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin in the nave. His first wife Jane and two of his children, Tim and Lucy, laid flowers. Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal, gave an address.
The Caithness slate stone was designed and made by John Maine and the letter cutter was Gillian Forbes.
The inscription is an English translation of a phrase which appears in Latin on Newton's gravestone:
HERE LIES WHAT WAS MORTAL OF
STEPHEN HAWKING 1942-2018
The stone depicts a series of rings, surrounding a darker central ellipse. The ten characters of Hawking's equation express his idea that black holes in the universe are not entirely black but emit a glow, that would become known as Hawking radiation. In this equation the T stands for temperature; the h for Planck's constant which is used to understand parts of quantum mechanics; c stands for the speed of light; 8Pi helps us to grasp its spherical nature; G is Newton's constant to understand gravity; M stands for the mass of the black hole and k stand for Boltzmann's constant, which is the energy of gas particles.
Hawking was elected to the Royal Society when he was just 32 and became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post also held by Newton. His best known work is A brief history of time. He set up the Stephen Hawking Foundation to help continue his scientific work and research into the universe and motor neuron disease. He died on 14th March 2018 aged 76.
Order of Service for A Service of Thanksgiving for Professor Stephen Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA (PDF, 468KB)
A postcard of his stone is available in the Abbey Shop.
Used by permission Stephen Hawking Foundation
This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library
Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster