This week we discovered that’s there’s a beautiful dog-friendly church in London, in Shepherd’s Bush/Kensington, to be precise. Dating back to 1868, St John the Baptist on Holland Road in W14 is a gorgeous Grade I listed church that feels like a cathedral. Not the kind of church that’s converted to a dog-friendly food hall like Mercato Mayfair, but a stunning church where you can go each week to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital. Every year, St John’s hold a unique pet blessing service where all pets (not just dogs) have their own service, and each pet receives a special animal blessing from the priest.
The Annual Pet Blessing In London
The pet blessing service is held to mark the Feast of St Francis on October 4th as St Francis is the patron saint of animals and ecology. Pet Blessings are celebrated worldwide and there have previously been some in London; however, it seems the annual service at St John the Baptist is the only established animal blessing in London.
It’s a lovely idea, and given Belinha’s recent health problems, although we’re not particularly religious, it felt like it was something we should do, and I’m so pleased we did.
We were met with a warm welcome as we entered the church, and all the dogs were immediately offered water and treats, much to Belinha’s delight.
Even a cat or two came along, but neither the cats nor dogs seemed particularly bothered by each other’s presence which was fortunate.
The pet blessing service was just thirty minutes long. After an initial spate of curiosity at the new environment and experience, all the dogs settled down quietly. The church atmosphere seemed to calm the dogs, and there wasn’t even any
wailing singing along with the hymns as you might expect.
Then it was time for all the animals to make their way forwards for the pet blessing, where each dog and cat was greeted by the priest, who said a special prayer over them which was quite an emotional moment.
After the service, tea and cake were provided for the humans, which was a lovely touch and encouraged both people and pets to socialise, immediately creating a sense of community that is often lacking in London.
Watch our Reel from the Pet Blessing on Instagram.
St John the Baptist, Always A Dog-friendly Church In London
Our pets are our family too and as an inclusive church, St John the Baptist wants to ensure that all family members are welcome at their services. This means pets can come along to the regular church services each week with sung mass taking place at 6:30 pm on Sundays, although the special animal blessing is only once a year.
The church also holds regular events such as the recent Museum of the Moon, which sadly we missed, but we’ve heard that there are some more exciting events planned soon, and of course, dogs will be able to visit too.
So if you’re looking for a dog-friendly church in London, either to attend regularly or just now and then, St John the Baptist is the perfect place to go with your pet.