A memorial to composer and playwright Sir Noel Coward was unveiled by H.M. The Queen Mother on 28th March 1984 in the south choir aisle of Westminster Abbey. The black marble stone is inlaid with white marble mastic and was cut by Ralph Beyer. The inscription reads:
NOEL COWARD. Playwright. Actor. Composer 16 December 1899 26 March 1973. Buried in Jamaica. 'A Talent to Amuse'
At the unveiling a wreath was laid by Lord Olivier and four other wreaths were laid on the stone by actors associated with Coward's films or plays. A selection of his songs, including 'The Stately Homes of England', 'London Pride' and 'Mad dogs and Englishmen' were played or sung. Readings included extracts from 'Cavalcade'.
He was born in Teddington in Middlesex, a son of Arthur Coward and his wife Violet (Veitch). His grandfather James had been a chorister at Westminster Abbey. He started acting at an early age and by the 1920s he was well known for his plays, of which 'Blithe Spirit' and 'Private Lives' are well known. He wrote screenplays for films such as 'Brief Encounter' and 'This Happy Breed' and acted the lead in 'In Which We Serve'. During the war he did secret service work and entertained the troops overseas. In 1970 he was knighted. After the war he took up residence in Jamaica and is buried there at Firefly.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004
Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
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