Noel Coward

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 to have been laid by Lord Olivier but he was ill and Joyce Carey took his place. Four other wreaths were laid on the stone by Graham Payn and 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'.

His life

He was born in Teddington in Middlesex, a son of Arthur Coward and his wife Violet (Veitch). His grandfather James Coward (1824-1880) had been a chorister at Westminster Abbey and later an organist at the Crystal Palace and other venues.

Noel 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.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Noel Coward, a biography by P.Hoare, 1995

Order of Service: Noel Coward memorial unveiling (PDF, 256KB)

Sermon given at memorial unveiling given by Richard Attenborough (PDF, 160KB)


16th December 1899


26th March 1973


28th March 1984


Playwright; actor; composer; musician


South Choir Aisle

Memorial Type


Material Type


Black and white photo of Noel Coward resting his chin on his hand, wearing a suit, bow tie and carnation
Noel Coward (b/w photo), Wilding, Dorothy (1893-1976)

Private Collection / Bridgeman Images

Black marble stone reading:
Noel Coward memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster