The service, at Holy Trinity Church, Dalston, takes place every year on the first Sunday in February. It is a riot of colour as clowns from all over the world appear in full clown costume, to celebrate the life of Joseph Grimaldi, respected as the greatest British clown of all.
The clown services began in 1946 at St James Church, Pentonville Road, Islington because that is where Grimaldi is buried. (The church has been demolished but Grimaldi's grave is still intact.) These services have continued annually ever since. In 1959 the service moved to its present venue at Holy Trinity Church, Beechwood Road, Dalston, Hackney,London. Holy Trinity is now known as the official “Clown’s Church”.
Originally clowns attending the service wore their everyday clothes. But in 1967 Clown Smokey gained permission for clowns to attend resplendent in their individual clown costumes and full makeup. This has certainly made the Clown Service a unique event in the United Kingdom.