The Catholic connection to “Downton Abbey”

It begins with the creator of this popular British series — and it will become a part of the storyline in the upcoming season:

Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes has become Vice President of the Catholic Association of Performing Arts. The announcement was made during a special centenary dinner at Alan Hall in Chelsea. During the evening, Lord Fellowes said that Catholicism would be entering the storyline of his popular ITV series “Downton Abbey” at some point in the near future. When questioned about this, he would not say whether the development would be in the two hour Christmas Day special next week, or the new series in 2012.

Guests of honour at the special dinner,  were Archbishop Vincent Nichols, President of the Association, actor Frank Finlay CBE, Chairman Richard O’ Callaghan, Frank Comerford, owner of the Stage  newspaper, Fr Pat Maloney, National Theatre Chaplain, CAaPA Chaplain Fr Alan Robinson and trustee Mgr Vlad Felzmann. Lord Julian Fellowes came with his wife Lady Emma, lady in waiting to Princess Michael of Kent.

The Catholic Stage Guild was founded in 1911 by Mgr Robert Hugh Benson, a former Anglican priest and youngest son of Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury,  to encourage and support Catholics in the theatre and allied professions spiritually and artistically. A colourful character, he bequeathed his home in Hertfordshire to the Archbishop of Westminster. It has been the country residence of all Archbishops of Westminster ever since.

During this centenary year,  CaAPA on the Road has performed  entertainments at churches, care homes, including Denville Hall for retired show business performers, and other venues. A centenary concert, compered by Vice President, comedian Don Maclean raised funds for CAFOD at Westminster Cathedral Hall.

Lord Fellowes, who won an Oscar for his Gosford Park screenplay, has become a household name as the creator of “Downton Abbey.” During his speech he said that one third of the adult  population watched the show. “The series  will go on as long as people want it to” he said.

Fellowes is also the author of the stage version of “Mary Poppins,” still going strong on Broadway, in London and on tour.

Comments

  1. pagansister says:

    Being a huge fan of Masterpiece Classic as well as all the other versions of Masterpiece Theatre, I will be interested to see how it is worked into the plot.

  2. COLIN MATTHEWS says:

    Pagan Sister . . . is that really what it means ?
    No matter “Downton Abbey” it is a wonderful production, in fact l have even sent my C.V. for apart, but no contact yet . . . I will pray about it . . . I am a Catholic.
    Anyway Seasons Greetings.

  3. pagansister says:

    Thanks, and Season’s Greetings to you also.

  4. Well, it’s a logical point to bring up. You’ve got your old Catholic recusant families, you’ve got your immigrant Catholics, you’ve got your famous Anglican converts to Catholicism, and you’ve got the surge of interest and pride in Catholicism between the wars. Perhaps more to the point, of course, you can examine today’s surge of UK Catholic numbers (thanks to Polish immigration, conversion, etc.) in the light of the surge back then.

  5. I’ve wondered about this. Why is one of their daughters named Mary, a Catholic name, after all?

  6. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why this noble family is more tolerant than most of frowned-upon people, because they themselves are frowned-upon as Catholics?

  7. It’s really interesting that Catholicism will enter the picture. I hope it isn’t portrayed in a negative light, as I am both Catholic and a HUGE ‘Downton’ fan (along with a bunch of other Catholics!).

    They belong to the Church of England, based on the prayers and wedding scenes. For example, Matthew would marry in a church — not Downton Abbey — if he were Catholic. Also, the ‘Our Father’ prayed at Lavinia’s grave was the English Anglican version.

  8. Just one question…was it necessary to include gay kissing in Season One between Matthew and the Duke? I am Catholic, and quite frankly I found that not only uncalled for, but not in line with all the hype about this series being recommended by fellow Catholics and priests. Just a thought…

  9. Sorry, I meant between Thomas and the Duke.

  10. I believe that Downtown Abbey has the potential to influence millions of young people who have not been exposed to fine drama such as this in decades. With so many of its characters modeling heroic virtue, I think the show’s benefits to its incredibly large audience far outweigh any negatives.

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