Where: All Saints Church Haggerston, Livermore Rd, London E8 4EZ
What is it?
The unique annual Clowns’ Church Service, also known as the Grimaldi Service, will be held on Sunday 3rd February. This year the event will take place at the All Saints Church, in Haggerston, London.
The service will see hundreds of costumed clowns gather to commemorate Joseph Grimaldi and other deceased clowns.
But who was Joseph Grimaldi? Grimaldi was an English actor, comedian and dancer, who became a well-known and respected clown performer. Notably, as a child, Charles Dickens saw Grimaldi perform, and later went on to edit his memoirs.
After his death, Grimaldi was buried in St James’ Episcopal Chapel’s burial ground, which is now known as Joseph Grimaldi Park. A special Clowns Service was first held at the park in 1946. For those who are interested, hidden in the park is a quirky and very fitting artwork, which allows you to make music and dance on Grimaldi’s grave. The artwork consists of two coffin-shaped bronze tiles, which are tuned so that you can play notes by stepping onto them. You can find this often over-looked park just off Pentonville Road in Islington.
In 1959 the annual Clowns Service moved to the Holy Trinity Church in Dalston. This is why Holy Trinity is also known as the Clowns’ Church. A special museum displaying clown memorabilia including props, photographs and costumes is located at the back of the church, although it is currently closed while the church awaits repair work.
For the last few years the service has been held at the nearby All Saints Church in Haggerston. The service attracts hundreds of performers from all over the world, all attending in full clown costume. Afterwards the clowns usually perform comedy magic, circus skills and a soap bubble act for members of the public.