Stephen Hawking: Funeral of renowned physicist will be held 'in city he loved so much'

Professor Stephen Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking

The funeral of Professor Stephen Hawking will be held at a church near the Cambridge University college that was his academic home for more than 50 years.

Renowned British physicist Prof Hawking died peacefully at his Cambridge home on March 14 at the age of 76.

The cosmologist had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his 20s.

Saturday's private funeral service at the University Church of St Mary the Great will be attended by family, invited friends and colleagues.

The church, which can seat up to 1,200 people, is near to Gonville and Caius College, where Prof Hawking was a fellow for 52 years.

Prof Hawking's coffin will be carried by six porters from the college, all in traditional uniform including bowler hats.

Many porters at the college knew Prof Hawking and provided support when he visited for dinners and other events, and they were asked by his family to be pallbearers.

Head porter Russ Holmes will walk ahead of the coffin as it is carried into the church.

He will wear his formal college uniform of top hat and tails, and carry a silver-topped ebony cane of office.

In a statement, Prof Hawking's children Lucy, Robert and Tim said: "On behalf of our whole family we want to express our huge gratitude to 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 and Caius College, the University of Cambridge and Trinity College, Cambridge for their assistance with our father's funeral service."

Prof Hawking's ashes will be interred close to the remains of Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey on June 15.

A book of condolence for Prof Hawking remains open at Gonville and Caius College, and an online book has also been set up.