For years it had become apparent the lighting in the Chapel was no longer adequate for many of its functions: reading was difficult for Clergy and Readers during Evensong in the winter terms, while most of the congregation east of the stalls was unable to read service books at all. The Choral Scholars were effectively singing by candlelight much of the time.
The Lighting Project Board, chaired by the Dean, considered how best to improve the Chapel lighting and reviewed various options. Key to making this project a success was the need to provide lighting at different levels to various parts of the Chapel, a smoothed lighting of the entire vaulted ceiling, the ability to adjust the lighting to a desired setting and a wish to make the lighting rigs as unobtrusive as possible.
Following three trials over a period of years and thanks to the generosity of Ian Jones (KC 1980 and former Choral Scholar) and other College donors, the final stages of delivery of the Chapel Lighting project were achieved over the summer months of 2020 when the Chapel was closed to visitors due to the pandemic.
Revd Dr Stephen Cherry, Dean, says “The new lighting system has huge potential to enhance the experience of visitors to the Chapel, especially those who wish to enjoy the grandeur of the fan vaulting and those who are attending an act of worship, particularly as many of our services take place at times of day when it is difficult for participants to read music, scripts or orders of service.
Even in the spring, on a cloudy day, the new system is flexible and subtle enough to make a significant positive difference. This means that there are fewer excuses for those of us who stumble over a word or note, of course, but it is a real help towards the excellence to which we aspire.
During Easter Term we had a service of Compline at 9.00pm every Friday and the new lighting has really enhanced the beauty of the stonework at that time. Another unexpected benefit to me is that the detail of the wood and metalwork of the Chapel is now much more exposed, even if the beauty of the whole is so overwhelming, that for those passing through the eyes will more often be drawn up to the vault.
The new system was much appreciated by the BBC Television technicians and producers who were with us in December. They used our lighting alongside theirs and the many more candles that were introduced in the space where we would usually have people. The effect was slightly different for the two services, but in both cases it was very beautiful and widely admired.
It is wonderful that everything has come together as it has. As Dean I am hugely grateful for the privilege of seeing this project through and for being one of the direct beneficiaries of the marvellous illumination of the place where I spend so many hours.”