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Light fantastic: St. Alban’s Cathedral illuminates the Renaissance

St Albans Cathedral is one of the oldest cathedrals in England, dating back to the time of the Norman rule.

Blaze of colours. St Alban's Cathedral is illuminated in rich, warm lights. Image (C) Tim Sandle
Blaze of colours. St Alban's Cathedral is illuminated in rich, warm lights. Image (C) Tim Sandle

St Albans Cathedral is one of the oldest cathedrals in England, dating back to the time of the Norman rule. The main body of the cathedral was completed in 1089.

As well as being an active base for the Church of England (Anglican denomination), the cathedral hosts many events throughout the year, several of which are designed to enhance its relations with the local community of the City of St Albans and beyond. This includes an annual event shining a light through the impending darkness of winter.

St Alban’s Cathedral at night. Image (C) Tim Sandle

The Cathedral has hosted previous illumination events. For 2023, the theme is “Renaissance: Illuminating the Past”, with a focus on the cultural and religious events and innovations of the so-termed ‘Dark Ages’ and the emergence of the Renaissance.

St Alban’s Cathedral illuminated. Image (C) Tim Sandle

For this year’s son et lumière, Digital Journal was in attendance.

Mix of lights and patterns projected onto the ancient walls. Image (C)Tim Sandle

The Renaissance was the period in history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity, covering the 15th and 16th centuries.

Representing the Renaissance. Image (C) Tim Sandle

As well as considerable social change there were significant alterations and discoveries in art, architecture, politics, literature, exploration and science.

Representing the Renaissance – social change in lights. Image (C) Tim Sandle

Illuminated, the experience of viewing and understanding the Middle Ages becomes both uplifting and thought provoking.

The different projections take people on a journey that inspires and also creates discussion.

Even the Cathedral ceiling is bathed in light. Image (C) Tim Sandle

The experience is one of wonder as you become immersed in light and sound, within the stunningly beautiful cathedral.

Glorious colours filling up the Cathedral. Image (C) Tim Sandle

The cathedral has a characteristic Romanesque architecture, reflecting the architectural style of the 11th century.

Behind the shows is the company Luxmuralis, who aim to take art onto the streets and provide access to visual artwork in public as well as unexpected places.

Patterns, lights, and symbols. Image (C) Tim Sandle.

For five days, between Tuesday 24 October and Saturday 28 October, once darkness had descended, the Cathedral was opened up to the public for the Renaissance themed event.

Illuminating the illuminations. Religious iconography comes to life. Image (C) Tim Sandle

These are journeys through art, using multiple sound and light installations and sculpture.

These journeys consisted of several light shows, using the larger walls and chambers for the projections. Many of these were accompanied by sounds and music.

Bursting with colour and invention. Image (C) Tim Sandle

As well as the light shows, almost all parts of the Cathedral lit in different coloured lights.

St. Alban’s Cathedral illuminated in rainbow colours. Image C) Tim Sandle

The experience overall was equally mesmerising and often breath-taking. The 2023 illuminations are at an end; if you are in the area during 2024, this is an adventure of light that is well-worth completing.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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