St John the Baptist Church – UK

Client: St John the Baptist Church

Lighting design: Pentad Design

acdc products: Plaza, Spek, Artemis, Air, Ultra.

 St John the Baptist Church, Knaresborough, England

St John the Baptist Church offers a remarkable 1000-year history with the first reference dating to 1114. A greatly admired Grade I listed Henry I building, it is open from early morning until dusk almost every day of the year. The busy event calendar includes regular activities from a large Church choir, the Sunday School, Bell Ringers, Parish ladies, Flower Guild and Mother’s Union.

Over the years St John the Baptist Church has undergone several reconstructions and renovations to ensure it continues to serve the community of Knaresborough. The most recent project has been an extensive lighting refurbishment.

Project brief

The project involved the replacement of the Church’s internal and external lighting with efficient and reliable LED technology, as well as creating a more dramatic lighting design. Key considerations were to improve the provision of task lighting while picking out the intricate architectural detail of this historic building. Various lighting scenes were required to accommodate daily opening, services as well as performances and concerts.

Brian Robinson, Designer at Pentad Design, was appointed as the lighting designer. He explains: “Prioritising sensitive lighting of liturgical pieces including the reredos (ornamental screen covering the wall at the back of the altar), two altars, carved stone features and a Jacobean font cover was particularly important. We also needed an energy efficient balance between ambient task and dramatic focus lighting.”

Brian, who had previously worked with acdc on other projects, and acdc Project Manager Paul Whittaker, had to work extensively with the church’s trustees to demonstrate a move to LED lighting was the right decision.

Brian explains: “Those involved in the project were confident in acdc’s ability to deliver a beneficial solution, including the church’s retained architect, Historic England, the Conservation Officer, St John’s Rector and Church Wardens, the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC), the lighting engineer and DAC Chancellor.

acdc solution

“In order to fit with the historic nature of the church, the fittings had to be subtle and discreet,” explains Paul. “Consistency of optics and LED colour was also important. Our use of extensive lighting mock-ups and demonstrations at the planning stage was essential for winning the trustee’s approval and funding by ensuring the correct optic choices and right lit effect.”

With the church to be almost exclusively illuminated using acdc products, a comprehensive range was carefully selected, all with 2 step MacAdam colour binning as standard. These included the PLAZA uplighter, SPEK spot, ARTEMIS marker, AIR downlight and ULTRA linear luminaire. All products were specified with a 3000K colour temperature to create a true light on the church’s magnesium limestone.

The PLAZA family of dimmable, architectural uplighters was chosen due to the choice of sizes (including 10, 20 and 35W) and wide range of optics (10°, 16°, 30°, 64°, 12° x 40°) offering great beam control. Outside, PLAZA illuminates the top half of the church including the tower and clerestory windows.

The magnificent Hertfordshire spike at the top of the Church’s tower is illuminated with four ARTEMIS markers while the pinnacles are lit with the SPEK spot (10°) to give a sparkling crown effect. Both luminaires and compact and discreet for minimal impact.

Inside, PLAZA illuminates key features including in the nave, crossing, chancel, and altar back. The ceiling is lit exclusively with PLAZA 10° for a dramatic effect which picks out the beautiful timber. ULTRA LED strips in 100mm sections are also used to illuminate the altar back without creating any shadows.

Deep recessed AIR MINI downlights have been used to illuminate the area under the organ soffit due to the wide beam optic, which gives good uniformity while keeping glare to a minimum. A curved reflector creates a soft feel.

Finally, the Slingsby Chapel monument is softly lit with SPEK 12° where the tomb recesses to create the impression that the tomb is coming out of the ground.

The lighting is controlled using a wireless and easy to use Rako system, which is free of cable runs. The need for a wireless system was especially important due to the building’s Grade I status. With controls including dimming and pre-set scenes, the lighting can be managed for various events and church uses, including services, weddings and concerts.

Speaking about his experience of working with acdc, Brian says: “acdc is a positive, innovative and personable company to work with. I chose acdc because I know from having used acdc luminaires on other projects they are high quality and UK designed and manufactured. I also continue to be impressed with acdc’s vision.

“The lighting acdc has provided has met all our objectives and does everything we wanted it to do. acdc’s attention to detail and customer support during a lengthy and challenging planning stage was particularly impressive. I am proud to say the church is now shown in a whole new light and has never looked so spectacular. The quality and distribution of the interior task lighting has vastly improved while the external lighting has given great joy to the community and visitors. I look forward to phase two which will complete the external lighting.”

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