Historic abbey seeks funds for LED upgrade

One of Britain’s finest Norman churches is looking for £150,000 to complete an LED lighting project.

Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire has spent half a million pounds relighting its nave, chapels and side areas, with a big donation from the Friends of Tewkesbury Abbey and help from two local councils.

It now wants to complete the project by relighting the choir, presbytery and high altar – the focus of services and the area where the abbey’s two choirs sing. If the necessary funding can be secured, it is hoped that the upgrade can be completed by November.

The abbey embarked on the project when the wiring in the old lighting system, dating from the 1970s and 1980s, began to fail. The new scheme, designed by church lighting specialists Light Perceptions, replaces the old halogen floodlights with LED spots, floodlights, linear and miniature fittings, mainly provided by Mike Stoane Lighting. It vastly improves the appearance of the abbey and is expected to reduce energy bills by about 80 per cent.

The completed parts of the scheme have helped bring out the architectural details of the 12th century building. Rev Canon Paul Williams, vicar of the abbey, told the BBC: ‘The nave looks wonderful.’

Philippa Shaw, the abbey’s executive officer, told Lux: ‘It’s bringing the building alive. What I love is that the stonework glows with the glorious warmth that you would expect from Cotswold stone, that sometimes we didn’t get from the old industrial units. It’s brought out some highlights that even people who’ve worshipped here for a long time have never noticed before. Around the west window are several beautiful friezes and you just didn’t see how much detail was there until they were actually lit up. They’re absolutely gorgeous.’

Shaw said: ‘I think the old units were probably fairly high tech when they were installed, but 30 years later LED lighting has the ability to pick out highlights on things, it’s just so much more advanced now than it was then.’