IT is possible there might be the odd church mouse resident at Holy Trinity Church in Hereford today, but tortoises Parrots? Goldfish even?

Well, the church’s annual pet blessing, marking the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, was a pretty major event in its day – at its height seeing the congregation swell from hundreds to thousands – and that doesn’t include pets.

It even caught the attention of Pathe News, who claimed the annual animal Sunday blessing started a world-wide movement, with similar services springing up across the world.

It was the inspired idea of Holy Trinity’s Reverend Snell, who was also chairman of the local RSPCA branch.

He started the tradition in the late 1940s.

It was a spectacle unlike anything we are likely to see in Hereford today.

Reverend Snell set the tone, arriving for the service on horseback.

He was followed through the doors of the church by hundreds of pet owners, dragging dogs, sheep, goats, ponies, or carrying parrots, mice, hamsters, even goldfish bowls.

In one memorable Derek Evans photo, one chorister is seen with a cat sitting happily in his pocket.

With limited space in the church, hundreds more waited outside listening to a public-address system.

For one Sunday of the year, Holy Trinity was the place to be.

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