Hackney clown service in jeopardy

Clowns gather together to celebrate the annual church service in memory of English actor Joseph Grim

Clowns gather together to celebrate the annual church service in memory of English actor Joseph Grimaldi at Holy Trinity Church in Dalston. - Credit: Archant

Clowns fear a world famous annual service celebrating their art is in jeopardy after they were asked to leave their historic home in a Dalston church.

Holy Trinity Church in Beechwood Road has been at the centre of international clowning since 1959, holding memorabilia and archives in a gallery and an iconic yearly service in memory of the father of clowning, Joseph Grimaldi.

But Clowns International claim the future of this historic institution is under threat after the church asked them to remove their belongings from the premises to make way for temporary classrooms to accommodate students at Holy Trinity Primary School.

The school, which is opposite the church, is being demolished and rebuilt, funded with cash from flats built on the site.

Clowns International secretary Tony Eldridge said the gallery is “a cultural asset to Hackney and London” and are appealing for a sponsor to house the archive and “save it from obscurity”.

He continued: “I am surprised that it seems that Hackney Council appear not to have been involved in the proposed change of use, and yet were involved with the Methodist Church.

“If there has been a meeting of some sort regarding the use of the church, Clowns International has not been informed of the outcome. The trustees are concerned about the final outcome of all this uncertainty.”

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Hackney Council confirmed that there was no formal planning consultation, as there will be no change of use for the building, meaning the Diocese didn’t need to apply for planning permission.

The London Diocesan Board for Schools confirmed that a “temporary nursery” would be housed inside the famous church, and that a log cabin is being constructed in the nave.

Performers come from around the world to attend the annual service at Holy Trinity, commonly known as the Clown Church, celebrating the life of Mr Grimaldi, who died in 1837, and lighting candles for other deceased clowns.

Vicar Revd Hudson-Wilkin, who also serves as Speaker’s Chaplain in House of Commons, declined to comment on the matter when approached by the Gazette.