It certainly isn’t every Sunday that you’re given the opportunity to attend a church service where clowning around is at the top of the agenda, right? This past Sunday, however, saw clowns of the capital city (and beyond) gathering at All Saints Haggerston for a service sure to turn any February frowns upside down.
That’s right, folks: Sunday, February 4 marked the 78th Annual Grimaldi Clown Service, a yearly service that pays tribute to the legendary London clown, Joseph Grimaldi. This rather eccentric tradition began way back in 1946, and has taken place on the first Sunday of February ever since. Members of the public are invited to attend (and it’s free!), so if you ever had a childhood dream of joining the circus; now could be your chance. Or at least, next year’s event could be…
Joseph ‘Joey’ Grimaldi was born in 1778 and made his clowning debut at Sadler’s Wells at just three years old. He went on to define and popularise the appearance and characteristics that we now associate with clowns. Grimaldi’s influence on modern day clowning is still celebrated to this day. The annual church service gives present day clowns the opportunity to pay their respects to the clowns that came before them.
A clown church service
So what exactly happens at a clown church service, I hear you ask? Good question. The service celebrates joy and laughter throughout and includes the likes of the ‘Clown’s Prayer’, hymns and circus songs, stories from the bible, balloon-animal making and various live performances. So, everything you’d expect, really…
After the service, some of the clowns provide a show for children and their families and there is also a long-standing tradition left by Grimaldi himself, whereby he invites people to dance on his grave in Islington.
The service is free to attend and seats work on a first come, first served basis so if you’re planning on heading there next year, we’d recommend arriving early. I’ll get my face paint, red nose, and outrageously large shoes at the ready!
The Annual Grimaldi Clown Service takes place on the first Sunday of February 4 each year. Find out more and plan your visit here.
📍 Haggerston Road, E8 4EZ