“It is really to illustrate that casual, almost unconscious anti-Catholicism that was found among the upper classes, which lasted well into my growing up years,” says Fellowes, 63, who is a Catholic and an old boy of Ampleforth.
Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, has, in a previous episode of the series, opined that Catholics have “something Johnny Foreigner” about them. “It wasn’t that they were nasty – Robert certainly isn’t – but they thought that somehow Catholics were un-English and so 'not quite right’,” says Fellowes. “I am not aware that anyone else has ever touched on it, so I thought it might be interesting.
“[Evelyn] Waugh writes about Catholics, Lord knows, but not much about the anti-Catholics, who outnumbered them in that world, many times over.”