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Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, UK

Project Brief

 Canterbury Cathedral, founded by St. Augustine in 597 AD, holds a special place as a place of worship, pilgrimage, and a remarkable masterpiece of art and architecture. Given the historical significance of this iconic structure, selecting appropriate lighting is crucial to enhance its interior aesthetics. The time had come to update Canterbury Cathedral's lighting system for sustainability and energy efficiency. Illuma, a renowned expert in lighting solutions for religious buildings, eagerly seized the opportunity to offer their expertise and experience.

The lighting system in place at Canterbury Cathedral was becoming outdated. It relied on metal halide and halogen technologies, which, although capable of producing high-quality light, were known for their long warm-up periods and shorter lifespans. These factors rendered them less economical compared to the latest LED technology.


Illuma was presented with the task of providing a lighting proposal that would utilize existing locations while updating the lighting to complement the cathedral's impressive features and offer a more energy-efficient solution. One challenge was to create a high-output, extra warm colour temperature spotlight, which Illuma did not typically offer in their range.


To address this challenge, Illuma developed a special made-to-order 2700 Kelvin, 3000 lumen Gridspot specifically designed for Canterbury Cathedral to match the light output and colour temperature of the metal halide fixtures it was replacing. The Gridspot was chosen for its proven reliability, outstanding performance, and high colour rendering index (CRI), which enhances the colours of the interior stonework and historical artifacts.

Initially, Illuma was asked to replace the lighting in the long stone staircases leading up to the Trinity Chapel. However, upon witnessing the remarkable performance of the products, they decided to illuminate 90% of Canterbury Cathedral using Illuma! The Gridspot Anti-Glare variant, with its 3000lm output, was employed for downlighting, delivering a powerful illumination from the elevated mounting points to ensure an average of 200lx (lux) reached the pews. This allowed the congregation to see clearly, while providing ample light for the choir to read their music.



For lighting the roof vaults, a wider 38° beam angle was selected, creating a beautiful ambient glow, highlighting the intricate roof details, artistic pillars, and beams. Pairs of the 24° variant were used to accentuate important features within the cathedral, including the high altar, offering an average lux level of 300lx. This strategic lighting design drew attention to these significant elements. Illuma's experienced lighting designers approached the task of illuminating a religious building like a stage, ensuring the highest lux levels were directed toward what the congregation was present to witness.



The team at Canterbury Cathedral have expressed their delight with the outcome, reporting substantial energy savings of over 70% compared to the old lighting system, the Cathedral’s Lead Electrician, Stephen Buchan said “It was a pleasure working with Rob, the new system is much more balanced and pleasing to the eye. We are really happy with the reduction in energy use.”

Robert Chesterfield, Illuma's National Retail Manager, shared his thoughts on the project, saying, "It was an absolute pleasure and an honour to work on such a prestigious project in this world-famous building. The final result is simply breath-taking, breathing life into the incredible architecture and history of the cathedral. The first time I saw the lights illuminate, it left me in awe!"


Find out more about Canterbury Cathedral: Canterbury Cathedral



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