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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.99

Ecclesiastical & Heritage World JTC Roofing Contractors Ltd

Shining brightly together: church embraces eco-friendly lighting upgrade

25 06 AnthonyJSmith pic1St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, HerefordSt Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church (SFX) is a Grade Two*-listed building designed by Charles Day of Worcester and built initially for the Jesuits. It sits in Broad Street, Hereford in the shadow of the cathedral.

The laying of the foundation stone was on 19 September 1837 when Queen Victoria sent her representative the High Sheriff of Herefordshire to represent her. This was the first time in 300 years that a reigning monarch and head of the Anglican Church had a representative at a Catholic ceremony.

In 1858 the Benedictines created nearby Belmont Abbey and control of SFX was handed over to them, where it remained until 1954 when control was given to the Archdiocese of Cardiff. In 1992 the archdiocese asked the community at Belmont if they would again serve the parish and they have been doing so ever since.

The neoclassical frontage must have been passed by many locals who have never ventured inside – if they were to do so, there is little doubt that they would be impressed by the ornately decorated and imposing interior.

25 06 AnthonyJSmith pic2The church was designed without windows for fear of them being broken due to the anti-Catholic sentiment at the time. The only natural light to enter the interior is through the 60ft-high curved dome (left), based on the ceiling of the mausoleum of the Empress Galla Placidia in Ravenna. It is  decorated by 390 golden stars on a background of dark blue.

The elegant gilded tabernacle was modelled on the one in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in St Peter’s, Rome and it holds relics of The Venerable Bede, St Francis Xavier, Pope Pius X, St Francis de Sales and St Jane de Chantal.

25 06 AnthonyJSmith pic3To the south of the altar is the shrine of St John Kemble (right), one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, and it contains one of his preserved hands. He was arrested in 1678, accused of being involved with the ‘Popish Plot’ and, although he was acquitted of any involvement, he was still sentenced to execution for being a Catholic priest which at the time was a treasonous crime. St John Kemble was beatified in 1929 and canonised in 1970.

By 1995 the church had fallen into such a state of disrepair that the diocese considered putting the building up for sale as the expense of repair would have been too great. For the parishioners this would have been unthinkable and they set to work forming a charity to apply for grants from English Heritage and the National Lottery amongst other organisations. By 2002 enough grants and funding had been secured and a major and successful reordering took place.

Anthony J Smith (Glos) Ltd designed and installed the lighting and electrical system for the parish in 2002 and in 2020, when Fr Michael Evans OSB accepted that the existing lighting was becoming harder to maintain and needed a major upgrade, he knew who to contact.

25 06AnthonyJSmith pic4Christ Church, Turnham Green in ChiswickFr Michael said: “Having installed and maintained the existing lighting system, and always having been so responsive and helpful, I knew that Anthony J Smith (Glos) Ltd would be willing and able to assist with our requirements. The original lighting worked well and I wished to keep the original pendants but was unsure if this would be possible.”

Che Polley of Anthony J Smith (Glos) Ltd added: “Many of the existing lighting outlets had become unserviceable due to phased-out lamps and component parts. The church had two realistic options; either replacements on an as when failed basis, which is normally not ideal due to the increased costs over a period of time, or a phased upgrade approach which always provides a better solution and value for money over the longer term.

“Fr Michael expressed a wish to retain the prismatic glass reflector/refractors for illuminating the main body of the church and a retrofit solution was totally out of the question. We ran some tests by inverting the glass bowl and then placing a mixture of dedicated chipsets, heatsinks and drivers onto a fabricated plate and the results were very encouraging. We removed the eight pendants and sent them to Great British Lighting in Fleetwood and, as per normal, they sent them back professionally converted to our requirements.

25 06 AnthonyJSmith pic5St George’s Catholic Parish Church, Taunton“The spot and floodlights illuminating the sanctuary were all substituted for latest generation LED outlets and we made minimal alterations to the existing cabling, allowing us to install an easy-to-operate-and-alter scene setting system which controls all of the outlets to precisely the required levels through the touch of a single button.”

Fr Brendan OSB, the new parish priest of SFX, added: “Whilst I only became the parish priest towards the end of the project, I can fully see why my predecessor Fr Michael wanted to retain the existing glassware of the pendants – the new LED light shines through in a most attractive way. The way that the levels of light and set scenes can be easily programmed to deliver the visual aesthetics this wonderful building deserves is a credit to the entire team at Anthony J Smith and I can see why my predecessor was keen that they be involved with the project.”

Anthony J Smith (Glos) Ltd have been designing and installing lighting systems within churches and other liturgical buildings for over 40 years and they always feel privileged when they get invited back to assist with churches where they have previously worked.

One such church is Christ Church, Turnham Green in Chiswick where they installed external floodlighting back in 1996. The floodlights still worked although they were becoming more difficult to maintain and source spares for as the component parts had been phased out several years previously.

25 06 AnthonyJSmith pic6St John’s Church, KeynshamChurch administrator Nikki Lovell said: “It was great to re-engage with Anthony J Smith (Glos) Ltd once we had managed to secure funds to upgrade the external lighting to LED and, whilst they were here, we also managed to make some alterations to the internal lighting outlets which included upgrading the lights to LED without needing to spend large amounts of money. Both the internal and external projects were a great success with countless favourable comments being received from the congregation and the wider community.”

Other recently completed church lighting projects by Anthony J smith include St George’s Catholic Parish Church, Taunton and St John’s Church, Keynsham.

Che Polley of Anthony J Smith (Glos) Ltd said: “It is always good to talk to potential new church clients but it is also encouraging to speak to previous clients who wish to discuss potential upgrades to systems which we have previously designed and installed.”

• For further information call 01453 825 130, email the team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.anthonyjsmith.co.uk

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