The creator and writer of Downton Abbey has opened up about his Catholic faith, admitting that he envies those with an “unfettered, unbounded, child-like faith” and would like to believe more firmly than he does.
Speaking to Aled Jones in Brompton Oratory in Knightsbridge, London, during a recent episode of Songs of Praise, Lord Julian Fellowes recalled how The Oratory, where he often worships, has been a part of his life since his childhood.
“I used to be brought to Mass at The Oratory by my parents when I was a little boy and played trains with my rosary in order to keep me quiet and so I do feel that it’s fabric is kind of embedded in me,” he explained.
Lord Fellowes revealed that he still goes to church and that his son has been bought up in the Catholic faith.
“I would like to believe more firmly than I do,” he added. “I always envy people like my wife or my stepmother who have that absolutely unfettered, unbounded child-like faith, I love that in people, I never argue with it because I envy it.”
Asked if his faith informs his writing, Lord Fellowes said: “My belief that we are part of something larger than we are does at times inform my writing. In Downton I hope we will see all our favourite characters tussling with their own future and you know they have doubts but I think a lot of them are essentially good people trying to do their best.”
Speaking further on the Downton Abbey film, which is released in cinemas today, (13th September), Lord Fellowes said it had been exciting to make and explained that it had differed to writing the series, as the film required a central event that would include all of the characters – the film features a royal visit to Downton Abbey by King George V and Queen Mary.
The peer also spoke about one of his favourite hymns and why it means so much to him.
“I Vow To Thee My Country – it was written by a man called Cecil Spring Rice who was the British Ambassador to Washington during the First World War. He was overcome by the horror of the First World War and the terrible sacrifice and loss of life but, at the same time, he sort of addressed it by facing it and saying all we can do is our best,” he said.
“I think that remains a very potent instruction really, all we can do is our best,” added a visibly moved Lord Fellowes.
To read more on Downton Abbey and Lord Julian Fellowes pick up this week’s issue of The Catholic Universe, available today. It includes a full feature on Downton Abbey, titled ‘The magic of Downton is back’.
Picture: Lord Julian Fellowes and the cast and crew of Downton Abbey accept the award for Most Popular Drama during the 2015 National Television Awards at the O2 Arena, London. (Yui Mok/PA).