Nothing brings colour to a grey February Sunday like a cohort of clowns descending upon a church in East London to honour the father of their trade, Joseph Grimaldi.
I can’t remember the last time that I was at church on a Sunday, but of course the mad city of London had just the quirky thing to get me back through the doors.
LONDON THING 158 OF 1000: Peruse the Eggheads at the Clowns’ Church.
Every year, clowns from across the country congregate at a church in East London to celebrate the life of Joseph Grimaldi, the originator of modern clowning. They’re all dressed up in full ‘slap’, and there’s no better day to get out your red nose and water-squirting flower than the Grimaldi Service.
The church service is pretty much what you’d expect from any other time you’re sitting in the pew, except when the Lord’s Prayer is punctuated by a squeaking bike horn and the scripture is read by Pip the Magic Clown.
The Grimaldi Service starts at 3pm, but if you want a chance of sitting anywhere close to the action, show up and get inside by 2:15 to stake your claim. After the service is over, the clowns play tricks on each other outside and ham it up for the paparazzi.
All Saints in Haggerston is a temporary venue for the Grimaldi Service, now in its 70th year, while the Holy Trinity Church in Dalston is being remodelled. If you take the short walk over to Holy Trinity, you’ll find a museum dedicated to the art of clowning, open after the Grimaldi Service and on Fridays.
Even if you’re not a regular church-goer, pencil in this riot of colour and laughter next year. The Grimaldi Service is no joke.
Go: All Saints Church Haggerston, Livermere Road, London, E8 4EZ. Overground Haggerston. The Grimaldi Service takes place the first Sunday in February every year.
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