Chelmsford Cathedral
Chelmsford Cathedral
Project Details

Name of Project: 
Chelmsford Cathedral
Chelmsford, Essex
Lighting Design:
Fitzroy Robinson
Fittings Used on Project

Toucan 2

Press Release

Ecclesiastical Lighting has completed a comprehensive and impressive lighting scheme for Chelmsford Cathedral. This complex scheme required the removal of the existing lights from the central nave and installation of a new scheme which provided a careful balance between the provision of ambient lighting sufficient for the congregation and the highlighting of the important architectural features of the Cathedral itself.

The scheme was designed and supplied by Ecclesiastical Lighting in consultation with Andrew Murdoch at Fitzroy Robinson, and the Cathedral’s Dean, The Very Reverent Peter Judd and the Fabric Advisory Committee headed by Geoffrey Ireland.

The first consideration was removal of the incumbent lighting system from the central nave and its replacement with a system that would not detract  from the Cathedral’s impressive arches. 

It was decided that the central nave could be lit from the side aisles through the arches. 

By using 75 watt  and 50 watt AR111 lamps, mounted on a 3-circuit track it was possible to highlight areas of interest while also providing enough ambient lighting for the congregation.

The side aisles themselves were lit with vertically installed 3-track mounted AR111 lamps which again provided general illumination as well as picking dout interesting features, such as the carved figures in the wooden ceiling.

One problem was how to light the ceiling of the Cathedral whilst remaining as inconspicuous as possible. The unique solution was to light the ceiling from outside the Cathedral itself. Following extensive light tests, specially designed lighting bars were mounted on the exterior of the building with the lights focussed on the ceiling through the windows. This innovative idea meant that the lights were not only hidden from sight, but readily accessible via the flat roof for ease of maintenance.

The Chancel itself proved difficult to light effectively. However, by subtly hiding the lighting track behind  the architectural details within the ceiling details, it  was possible to light the Chancel and Sanctuary, altar, rear tapestry and choir stalls together.

As Geoffrey Ireland says, “We were extremely pleased with the lighting scheme. We wanted to take the lighting away from the central Nave because it was ugly and detracted from the Cathedral’s inherent beauty. The decision to light the Nave from the side aisles was both bold and brilliant. Not only has the central Nave been restored, but now the side aisles and their ceilings are illuminated and this as transformed the look of the Cathedral. A lot of thought went into the scheme and the results are very successful.”

The whole lighting scheme is both practical and versatile. The Cathedral is used for many different religious and secular occasions (such as graduation ceremonies and concerts). It was therefore important that the lighting scheme could accommodate different uses and variable seating configurations. To do this, the scheme is controlled by a Dynalite Dimming System. This divides the Cathedral into several zones e.g. Nave ceiling, Nave seating, side aisles, architectural features, Chancel and choir stalls. There are 9 pre-set lighting scenes designed to give different levels of light to relevant areas of the Church depending on the various services of functions at any one time. The lighting control system also gives the operator total flexibility by providing the ability to override manually any lighting scene via a touchpanel screen.