Lightmaster have had many amazing opportunities to work on some incredibly diverse projects. One of the areas we’ve really enjoyed is our work with church lighting. The different types of lighting required give us a real challenge when it comes to the design. Task light for the Priest and parishioners to be able to read their hymn sheets, to the accent light needed to highlight the beautiful architectural and decorative features of the building.
St Francis of Assisi is a church located between Walsall and West Bromwich. The current church was built in 1941 but prior to that there had been a wooden church serving the community since 1929.
In 2011, Lightmaster were asked to design a whole new lighting scheme. The original lighting consisted of fluorescent tubes mounted more than 5 meters above the floor, providing lighting levels so low in the pews that many of the congregation were struggling to read their hymn and prayer books. It was cumbersome to control, expensive to maintain and lacked atmosphere.
The comprehensive brief called for:-
- Atmospheric and calming church lighting to encourage quiet reflection.
- Accent lighting to feature the hand-painted arches and 14 Stations of the Cross.
- Improved lighting levels in the pews for reading.
- Warm, soft lighting to welcome people on arrival, for pew lighting during hymns and for font lighting during baptisms.
- Exterior church lighting to highlight the restored gold-plated St. Francis on the church-tower.
- The ability to easily alter the lighting effects to complement the different parts of the service.
- Create pathways of light to direct visitors to the area of the church being used for a particular service or meeting.
- Provide a lighting control system which would take into account the different activities taking place in the church, such as parish meals, Brownies, youth club and Sunday School.
The new lighting scheme was part of a large scale renovation project, which involved working with the local diocese, the PCC, architect, builders and English Heritage. English Heritage had originally requested pendant lighting suspended from the ceiling but, after much discussion and the creation of a full-scale model and simulation of the fitting, custom-made wall-lights were designed and manufactured by Lightmaster in collaboration with the architect.
The solution included:-
- Bespoke wall up lighters are positioned on the internal walls to achieve not only bright crisp light, but also a warm candlelit effect when dimmed.
- Miniature spotlights are located on the ceilings with a narrow beam to accent the plaques depicting the 14 stations of the cross.
- In the chancel three discreet up lighters now provide a wash of light into the whole space and highlight the high level windows.
- The altar, lecterns and fonts are lit by low voltage halogen lighting that enables Father Ron to not only read but also to be front lit for the congregation. The seat behind the lectern is also lit by a narrow beam spotlight.
- Each light has been focused to ensure that every seat in the congregation is properly illuminated.
- Up lighters and cross lighting spotlights are used to wash the ceiling with light.
- LED strip-lighting was used to light the hand-painted arches.
- Low-energy fluorescent fittings were used in north & south aisles, vestries, and porches.
- LED spotlights illuminate the gold-leafed St. Francis, which can now be seen from the motorway.
The dimming and control of low-energy light sources is technically quite complex and this is why Lightmaster selected the Dynalite lighting control system, which is very effective at controlling both LEDs and fluorescent lamps.
Lighting control was of the utmost importance as Father Ron wanted to be able to control and alter the church lighting effects throughout a service without the need to use wall-switches. This was achieved using a discreet hand-held remote control, which is easy-to-use and with which preset lighting effects can be changed at the press of a button.
We have completed several more Church projects since St Francis and we have learned that the basic rules are the same:
- Soft warm lighting to welcome Church goers
- Stronger lighting over pews to allow easier reading of hymn books
- Highlight features, both architectural and religious