British Science Week
British Science Week is in full swing at the moment and is aimed at celebrating science, engineering, technology and maths. To help them with their aim, we have focused today’s post on the scientists buried and memorialised within the Abbey’s walls.
One of the most famous scientists buried within Westminster Abbey is Sir Isaac Newton. Most people know Newton for the famous (and probably false) story of an apple falling on his head, which led to him conceiving the universal law of gravitation. However he contributed so much more to the world of science, mathematics and astronomy which has led to his well-deserved reputation as one of the greatest scientists of all time. His grave and accompanying monument are found in the Nave of Westminster Abbey, and are suitably impressive for this great man.
His study and understanding of light, the invention of the reflecting telescope (1668), and his revelation in his Principia of the mathematical ordering of the universe are all represented on this elaborate monument.
Another well-known scientist laid to rest in the Abbey is Charles Darwin. A naturalist and geologist, he is best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory with his famous work The Origin of Species. Although raised as a Christian and planning to become a vicar, his work left him with many questions about his faith and by the end of his life he was an agnostic who believed it was impossible for us to truly know anything of the nature of God. This did not diminish the respect he received from his contemporaries and the Dean of Westminster, George Granville Bradley, was in no doubt that the Abbey should be Darwin’s final resting place.
The area in the Nave where Darwin and Newton are laid to rest has become a popular site for the graves and memorials of many eminent scientists, much like Poet’s Corner has for writers. Among those with grave stones and memorial plaques are Paul Dirac, Michael Faraday, Lord Kelvin and James Clerk Maxwell. To find out more about these memorials, you can purchase the book Treasures of Westminster Abbey by visiting our online shop.