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St Stephen’s church is a grade II* listed building which is located on the old Roman road of Watling Street on the southern edge of the city. The church was founded in AD 948 and was a very simple building which consisted of two rectangular cells with no tower. The only known remnant of the Saxon building is a small single lancet window which has been dated to around AD 950.
In the early part of the 12th century, the building was enlarged by the Normans, followed by further enlargement around 1170. The south aisle and lady chapel were built in the 13th century. The nave roof was raised in the 15th century with clerestory windows inserted to bring more natural light into the interior. The chancel was also enlarged and the timber framework of the chancel arch built.
St Stephens was in poor condition by the mid part of the 19th century and in 1840, the decision was made to demolish the church and rebuild it in ‘a more populous part of the parish’. Just a month later the decision was reversed and instead, a chapel of ease was built on Park Street.
St Stephens was restored in 1860 and as a result, most of the interior furnishings are Victorian.
In February 2021, CLS Electrical Services Ltd began work on installing a new lighting system within the church. The existing metal halide floodlights and halogen spots were removed and new DALI controlled LED projector spots installed throughout. New cabling was installed and additional lighting was provided to illuminate the roof spaces and architectural features. Linear LED strip was installed within the clerestory windows and emergency lighting was incorporated onto the new system.
A PIR sensor has been installed above the entrance to the south porch which brings the new lighting on automatically upon entering the church. A 10-button scene plate allows the church users to recall a pre-programmed scene for any event. WIFI enabled control also allows the lighting to be programmed and controlled from a smart device or laptop.
The installation completed in March 2021 within its 4 week timescale and the church re-opened its doors to parishioners for public worship. The new lighting received positive feedback and enhances this wonderful historic building.