grimaldi memorial service

Photo acknowledgement: Christian Today.

Photo acknowledgement: Christian Today.

Crimaldi Memorial Service. Hackney. Holy Trinity Chuch, Beechwood Road, London E8 3DY. 

Born in London in 1778, Joseph Grimaldi was the son of Guiseppi Grimaldi, an entertainer who had at least ten children by three different women. Joseph made his stage debut at the age of two at the Drury Lane Theatre. By the age of six he was considered a prominent stage performer. The Gazeteer newspaper reported that 'the infant son of Grmaldi performs in an astonishing manner'. One evening Joseph was playing the part of a monkey and was led onto the stage by his father, who had attached a chain to Josephs's waist. Guiseppi swung his son around his head 'with the utmost velocity'. The chain snapped and Joseph landed in the orchestra pit. 

Joseph grew up to become the most popular comedian of the Regency era, performing pantomime in all the great London theatres. He developed the role of Clown in the harlequinade that fromed part of British pantomimes. He originated catch phrases, such as 'Here we Go Again', which still feature in modern pantomimes. He also developed the now familiar clown make up, painting a white base over his face and neck, then adding red triangles on the cheeks, thick eyebrows and large red lips set in a grin. 

After numerous injuries caused by his athletic clowning his health declined and he retired from the stage at the age of 45. He sadly died at the age of 58 a depressed, impoverished alcoholic. 

Since 1946 an annual Grimaldi Memorial Service has been held at Holy Trinity Church, Dalston, on the first Sunday in February. Clowns join the congregation in full make up and costume (some brandishing water squirting flowers, whoopie cushions and balloon animals) and clown cars are pedalled down the aisle. 

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