London SE1 > News & Features > December 2000

An illuminating experience at the Cathedral

      Photo: Leigh Hatts

"I am going to ask you to do what you have always wanted to do: turn your back on a politician" said Culture Secretary Chris Smith as he invited the crowd outside Southwark Cathedral to stop listening at him and watch the building slowly light up. The Cabinet Minister was speaking to members of the Advent Carol Service congregation who had gone outside for the switch on of lights. Also present were Timothy West and his wife Prunella Scales and Millennium Commission member Lady Howe.


Chris Smith admires the floodlighting with the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Tom Butler

Southwark Cathedral is being floodlit from Advent Sunday as a lasting Millennium achievement.

Twelve months ago the Queen began the national celebrations by going to the cathedral on New Year's Eve to light the Millennium Candle. Culture Secretary Chris Smith, who is switching on the lights after attending the Advent Carol Service, says: "Southwark Cathedral is one of London's greatest churches but has been for too long invisible."

Dean Colin Slee describes it as an exciting moment. "Now, freshly cleaned, the cathedral will delight people from unexpected angles, not least twenty million a year who pass by on the trains" says the Dean.

"We are indebted to the confidence and generosity of our donors." Chris Smith, looking back on a year of change on Bankside says: "The South Bank and Bankside area continues to grow as a place of cultural renaissance and it is wholly appropriate that its oldest building should be at the centre of this expansion. I look forward to the completion of the entire Cathedral building project of which the floodlighting is a foretaste."

The floodlight colour is sympathetic to the original honey-coloured stonework and picks out architectural detail such as flying buttresses, turrets and gargoyles. A number of stained glass windows are being backlit to give a feeling of life within the building at night. All lamps used are energy saving and the equipment is largely concealed.

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