Ely Cathedral is located in the city of Ely, in East Cambridgeshire, England The site can be dated back to AD 763, when it began as an abbey church built by St Etheldreda. The current building dates from 1083, and Ely was elevated to cathedral status in 1109.

As part of the Church of England, Ely Cathedral is committed to being carbon neutral by 2030. To help achieve this, the lighting at Ely Cathedral is currently being upgraded to a more energy-efficient and sustainable system. The work has been split into phases, with phase 1 focusing on the exterior of the Cathedral’s Octagon Tower.

While the Cathedral is primarily a place of worship, it is also an important heritage attraction, a venue for music and events, and an occasional location for filming. It was important to ensure that any new lighting scheme was capable of showing the architecture off to its full potential, while supporting a range of uses and enhancing the Cathedral’s daily round of worship. The new system will reveal more of the detail and beauty of the building, while being less visually intrusive.

The project’s goal was to remove the existing flood lighting and create a more flexible and controllable design, while offering increased energy efficiency. The flexibility of the lighting controls is important, as it allows the Cathedral to use colors and dynamic lighting to mark special occasions or events, such as red, white and blue for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, or the colors of the liturgical calendar. The previous lighting allowed for only a single color. In addition, the new system has removed the need for someone to change the lighting manually when required, which incurred time and cost.

To deliver the control aspect of the exterior lighting design, Pharos Architectural Controls were used. A Pharos TPC (Touch Panel Controller) is now used by the Cathedral, offering a customizable 4.3” touch screen with a single Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) network connection. The touch screen interface allows Ely Cathedral to create multiple pages of controls and configure their appearance to provide immediate visual feedback.

The Pharos TPC allows for control of lighting levels and playbacks that can transition between scenes, timelines, effects and pixel-mapped media. To increase functionality, a Pharos EXT was also used. The EXT is an extension for the Pharos TPC and together they form a standalone, mains-powered lighting control system with flexible output and show control options. The EXT also provides local DMX and DALI output for the TPC, as well as power and other hardware interfaces.

Project credits: 

Lighting Consultant: Lighting Perceptions

Installation: Bullens

Stakeholder: Funded by Friends

Lighting Control: Pharos Architectural Control

Lighting Fixture Manufacturer:  Studio Due

More information on Pharos Architectural Controls is available here.