Lighting design for churches

We have designed lighting schemes for churches across Britain

A unique fan-vaulted ceiling

St. John’s Church, Wicken

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The challenge

St John’s Church, Wicken, is one of only a few 18th Century churches in England. The chancel has a unique decorated fan-vaulted ceiling made of papier-maché that deserves to be highlighted.

The church is also notable because the nave and aisles form one large space. The effect of this is that the ceiling has an unusual lobed formation.

Now, in the 21st Century, the lighting in the church was not only outdated and inefficient — it was not doing justice to a wonderful building.

The new lighting had to be easy to manage and maintain, energy-efficient and dimmable. It was also essential that lighting levels would be sufficient for all the different activities and uses of this church. The key challenge was to minimise visible cabling and avoid any damage to the delicate ceiling material.

Our solution

Unsurprisingly, the project was scrutinised at every stage; and the local project team had three attempts before obtaining DAC approval for a Faculty for a new lighting scheme.

We were involved throughout the approvals process, providing marked-up photos and technical data; and modifying the specification to address every concern and justify the chosen method of illumination.  

In our lighting scheme we used uplights to draw attention to the remarkable papier-maché ceiling in the chancel.

We lit the nave and aisle area from a high level, with two lights fitted above each window. One was directed to highlight the almost geometric shapes in the lobed ceiling to produce a wonderful chiaroscuro effect. The other was directed down to illuminate the pew and floor area. It took teamwork and attention to detail to make sure the final result was both effective and harmonious.

Technical highlights


All lighting is energy-efficient LED


All lights are dimmable


Equal emphasis is given to indirect (uplighting) and direct (downward) lighting


Total lighting load is only 1.6kW

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Involved at every stage

Lampholder was involved throughout the planning and approvals process. We provided marked-up photos and technical data; and modified the specification to address every concern. While this might seem unusual it paid dividends when work began as all the details had been checked and cross-checked.


What our clients said

“It looks fabulous and has achieved not only much improved lighting to read by, but a completely different atmosphere in the church – the gloom has gone and the architecture is now highlighted. We honestly could not be more pleased and it was definitely worth the wait. It is even better than we ever imagined.”


controls and maintenance

Our design specified light fittings from Targetti. With built-in LED light sources there are no bulbs to change and a 5-year guarantee. These lights have a service life of 50,000 hours, which translates into 30 years+ for this building. There will be a considerable saving in running costs and maintenance.

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