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Funding campaign starts for lighting project at Tewkesbury Abbey

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 09, 2012

ABBEY PROJECT: Mary Green, Bruce Kirk, Phil Comens, Philippa Shaw and David Deboys

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CLERGY are praying for people to see the light at Tewkesbury Abbey.

The place of worship, which dates back more than 900 years, is embarking on a massive project to update its lighting.

It has already secured half of the cash needed for the ambitious scheme, which will see the entire building being relit.

But it must now find the other £400,000 to complete the work.

Current lighting in the abbey was put up 30 years ago and Canon Paul Williams said it is now looking out-of-date.

The Reverend Williams said: "New lighting is just a part of the ongoing process of good custodianship of this inspiring building, but it is an important part. This work will, hopefully, help to maintain Tewkesbury Abbey as a beautiful and spiritual haven for many people from around the world. Our aim is to relight the abbey so that our building and all its glorious architecture can be enjoyed by everyone."

Canon Williams said technology had advanced and some of the lighting in the abbey was dated. He said: "Typical of installations of this era, this involves a large number of individual floodlights and spotlights which, by modern standards, are large in size, of simple utilitarian design and exhibit a high degree of glare.

"The light sources are now considered very inefficient, producing significant heat which also leads to breakdown of various components within the fittings. There is no provision for dimming and the performance of the lighting is considered poor."

He added: "Many key liturgical and architectural features are not sufficiently accentuated, making the interpretation of the building's details difficult for both worshipper and visitor."

The Friends of Tewkesbury Abbey has already donated £400,000 towards the project. And staff at the abbey have now approached designer Bruce Kirk, a lighting advisor in the diocese of Southwark, to help give them ideas of how to relight the building. Lighting Perceptions, a consultancy firm specialising in lighting heritage and ecclesiastical buildings, are also working on the project.

Canon Williams said every effort was being made to ensure the work did not overpower the building. He added: "Care will need to be taken to ensure the new lighting scheme's physical form and practical performance is not seen as a modern, instantly dated and unwelcome intrusion."

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