Set in February 1922, long after the funeral for Matthew. Isobel and Mary are still in mourning. Violet attempts to bring Mary out of mourning. Mr Carson tells her she's letting herself be defeated by Matthew's death. Mary is advised to take on a more active role in managing the estate with Tom as her counsellor. Robert and Violet disagree on what's best for Mary's grief.moreless
In this final episode of Season 3, Matthew and Mary are obviously keeping important secrets from each other, the question is, what is each of them holding back? Carson must decide what to do with Thomas, whose future employment at Downton rests in his hands but Thomas may be surprised to find support from an unexpected quarter.
A visit from Violet's great-niece could have more behind it after things are learned concerning her in London.
Everyone is very pleased at the prospect of the upcoming village cricket match, especially Robert, who shows everyone an unexpected competitive side to his nature.moreless
There may finally be some good news at Downton after all the recent trauma. Matthew continues to insist that his way of managing the estate is the correct one, but is he going to be able to do things the way he wants to or will he continue to meet resistence?
The arrival of one of Branson's relatives isn't the only problem surrounding him at Downton, and Edith is the recipient of admiration from a wholly unexpected source. Will something finally go her way in this second last episode of the season?moreless
Has Bates finally realised that he will spend the rest of his life behind bars for Vera's murder or does he have something up his sleeve that will set him free?
Isobel's well - intentioned efforts to assist others backfire and anger and frustration are the result.
Violet finds herself having to play peacemaker as Robert and Cora have difficulties in their relationship. Meanwhile, the hot-headed Branson makes decisions which could cause him even more trouble but he finds support from an unexpected corner.moreless
The new maid is managing to get quite a bit of attention from the servants and Daisy appears to be just a bit jealous at the direction some of it is coming from. How will Edith cope with all that has happened since being jilted? Is there something in the wind which might make for a brighter future?
After quite a few unsuccessful attempts at first, can Isobel finally find a way to help the desperate Ethel Parks? And as for Bates, will Anna have success at last in her efforts to assist him with his troubles, or will it again come to nothing?
As he has from the beginning, Matthew is taking an active interest in the running of Downton, but when he mentions some things which are troubling him, nobody seems to be listening.moreless
Trouble looms for Lady Sybil and her husband, Tom Branson as his strong views on political matters get him into all sorts of trouble which means that Sybil has her strong loyalties severely tested when she feels as though she is forced to take sides.
Anna cannot understand the change is Bates's attitude and wonders what it is he is hiding from her. Meanwhile, a new young footman by the name of Jimmy Sparks is causing quite a bit of interest below stairs as Carson decides whether or not to hire him.
Poor Ethel must decide what is best for little Charlie as she tries to make vital decisions regarding his future. A very difficult proposition indeed.moreless
Edith's happiness is overshadowed by her family's opposition to her plans regarding Anthony Strallan but will their disapproval change things? Meanwhile as the mounting financial pressures threaten to engulf the estate and everyone connected with it, Mary decides that she must make an urgent move before all is lost for good.
It looks as though Miss O'Brien may be about to make a very important decision with regard to her future while Mrs. Hughes awaits news concerning her own possibilities. Has Anna finally come across something which may help Bates be freed or will it come to nothing? How will the members of the Crawley family and the staff deal with all the changes which may be taking place in their once-perfect world?moreless
The financial situation for the Crawley family becomes even more precarious and Violet and Mary decide that something must be done. They decide to pretend all is well by throwing a large, formal party for family, friends and neighbours, while Mary is hopeful that Cora's wealthy mother, Martha Levison, may be persuaded to come to the rescue.
However, it is not only the family who are facing difficulties, as houekeeper, Mrs. Hughes, has some unpleasant personal news to deal with while Cora's maid, Miss O' Brien, is determined that her nephew shall rise quickly through the ranks, somethings which does not sit well with the ever-ambitious Thomas.moreless
It is 1920 and Matthew and Mary's wedding is fast approaching. Cora's mother, Martha, arrives from America for the nuptials, much to the displeasure of Violet as the two women have never seen eye to eye. There is some doubt as to whether the wedding itself will go ahead as the young couple are dealing with many stresses. Meanwhile, Miss O' Brien's nephew, Alfred, is employed at Downton as footman while Robert must shoulder a heavy burden as severe financial problems threaten the future of the estate and all who live and work there.moreless
It is now early 1919, and with the war over, the residents of Downton Abbey slowly start to get their lives back in order. Just as it is thought that there cannot be more problems concerning Vera, Bates learns that something else has arisen and he's not sure how to deal with it. Meanwhile, Sir Richard Carlisle uses Anna in a manner which puts her in a very difficult position. For Thomas, the end of the war means yet more ways to make money. And, for Sybil and Branson, they must try to keep their secret for as long as possibles when some totally unexpected news leaves everyone reeling.moreless
It is 1918, and with the end of the war in sight, it looks as though it won't be too long before life can return to relative normality at Downton Abbey, however, Cora and Isobel clash once more over what is to be done with the house when the Armistice is declared.
A Canadian officer arrives at Downton to assist in his return to health but some of the things he imparts to Lady Edith could cause problems for the Crawley family. Meanwhile, Bates once again finds that he has to deal with Vera and must travel to London to do so. His Lordship tells him to keep calm, but will he be able to do so?
Ethel is struggling as a new mother but is receiving a lot of help and support from Mrs. Hughes until Mr. Carson finds out, which may possibly be problematic for all concerned.moreless
Lord Grantham receives some terrible news from the front line which will impact on everyone at Downton.
It looks as though the future of the entire family could be under threat as the greedy Vera Bates threatens to expose all the secrets that she knows about the Crawley family. Can Lady Mary stop her, using her connection with Sir Richard Carlisle before it's too late and what will happen if she doesn't?
For Daisy, life is complicated enough without everything else that is going on as she feels caught up in a whirlwind with regard to her relationship with William.moreless
It is now 1918. While a concert is being planned to cheer up the soldiers recovering their health at Downton, members of the family are trying to overcome several personal issues. Isobel and Cora cannot see eye to eye on how things should be done and Mary is determined to forget Matthew and get on with the rest of her life, possibly using Sir Richard Carlisle to make it possible. Neither Violet nor Lord Grantham are at all pleased with this possibility and His Lordship decides to have an important discussion with Mary.
Meanwhile, Thomas, who has been made manager of the convalescent men, makes life extremely difficult for poor Carson, who is used to having things done his way and not being upstaged by a former footman. Branson promises Carson to behave in future, but can he be trusted? Lord Grantham decides that he must speak to Bates in person and Mrs. Hughes is in for a shock which effects herself as well as other staff members. Mrs. Bird and Molesley decide to do their part to help everyone with the war effort.moreless
The Granthams have opened up parts of their home to injured officers needing time to recover. However, with the men, the nurses and the beds comes Isobel Crawley who severely limits the space the family has for privacy and begins giving orders to the servants. O'Brien decides to protect Cora by arranging to have Thomas installed as manager of the house. Carson reminds His Lordship about Thomas' theft, but Grantham never told his wife about the incident and it is believed that Thomas will have some loyalty to the family.
Meanwhile, Ethel is a bit too eager to chat with the wounded officers, causing Mrs .Hughes to continually remind her to keep to her work. With nothing else to do, Edith volunteers to help the men with various errands.
Branson has finally been called up and plans to claim Conscientious Objector, though it will result in prison. When his plans are foiled due to a heart murmur that disqualifies him from military service at all, he plots to make his political statement some other way.
Meanwhile, William has completed military training and will be leaving for the front soon. Daisy is worried that he will ask her to marry him. She is fond of William, but not in love with him. Mrs. Patmore pressures her to accept his proposal so he can go to war a happy man with a reason to return alive, arguing that the engagement can always be broken after the war.
Having made some discreet inquiries, Violet and Rosamund have learned that Miss Swire helped bring about the Marconi Scandal of 1912 by stealing incriminating papers from her uncle and giving them to Sir Richard Carlisle, Mary's beau, who made them public and cost several politicians their positions. They assume that Lavinia would only do such a thing because Carlisle was her lover.
Mary, however, finds out the truth from Lavinia herself. Her father was in debt deeply to Sir Richard and, to save him from financial ruin, Lavinia stole the papers which only exposed guilty men anyway. Knowing something of the sacrifices one makes to keep the family honor intact, the sympathetic Mary decides not to use this knowledge against Lavinia.
Spotting someone she believes is Mr. Bates in the village, Anna learns that Bates has returned and is working in a local pub. He tells her that he has proof of his wife's infidelity and can now force the divorce issue, willing to pay her what she wants to finally leave him alone and hold her tongue about Mary's indiscretion. Anna, weary of the endless delays to their future plans, isn't convinced that Mrs. Bates will go so easily. Since infidelity on the part of a man isn't treated as seriously as it is for a woman, Anna offers to be his mistress. Bates will not hear of it because Anna deserves to be a legally married woman.
When Mr. Lang's nervous condition proves too much for him to be around men in uniform, the overworked Carson is relieved when Branson offers to serve as footman during a dinner for an important general doing a tour of the area. Anna finds a letter from Branson apologizing to Sybil in advance. She runs to Mrs. Hughes who alerts Mr. Carson who stops Branson as he is about to serve the general. They quietly remove the chauffeur from the room, believing he had intended an assassination. Branson reveals that he'd only put together a filthy mixture in the soup, meaning to pour it over the man.
Dinner proceeds smoothly and the general delights everyone by toasting the normally-overlooked Edith as someone who has been invaluable to the recovery of the injured men.
Lang's shell shock has not improved, giving him nightmares and causing a breakdown when the general and his men are leaving Downton. Realizing that he failed to understand the depths of Lang's problem, Carson goes to dismiss him. Instead, he finds Lang already packing. They both agree that he is not well enough to continue at this time, but Carson does offer him a generous severance and a good reference when he is ready to work again.
With little else to do, Lord Grantham arranges to have William assigned to Matthew in the hopes of sparing him the worst of combat. He also puts his foot down when Dr. Clarkson cites military protocol as an impediment to having the injured Evelyn Napier transferred to Downton to convalese. He reminds both Clarkson and Isobel that this is his house and threatens to withdraw the use of it if they don't stop dictating to his family what they can and cannot do in it.
In April of 1917, O'Brien, who has kept in touch with Thomas, suggests to Cora that he be transferred to the village hospital so he may continue to serve. Cora presses Robert who uses his influence to have Clarkson approve the transfer. Thomas arrives in Downton with a disfigured hand, but, otherwise, in good condition.
The war hits home in many ways as Sybil is officially working as a nurse and the new valet, Lang, exhibits signs that O'Brien recognizes as shell shock, William has been called up for training and Mrs. Patmore learns that her nephew is missing in action. After asking Lord Grantham for his help, he makes inquiries and gives her the sad news that the young man was shot for cowardice.
Determined to be useful, Edith volunteers to drive the tractor for local farmers John Drake and his wife who have lost their hired man to the war. She enjoys the work, but gets too close to Mr. Drake for his wife's comfort. After spotting Drake kissing Edith, Mrs. Drake hires a farmhand and sends word to Downton that Edith's help isn't needed anymore.
Molesley expresses interest in Anna who lets him down easily, admitting that Mr. Bates is the only one for her.
Thomas and Sybil befriend a young soldier blinded in the war and work to teach him how to adjust to his surroundings. When his initial treatment is over, protocol requires that he be transferred to a far off convalescent center. Thomas and Sybil prevail upon Dr. Clarkson to make an exception as they fear their new friend is depressed. When the doctor will not bend regulations, the young man kills himself with a smuggled razor, leaving Thomas shaken up and Sybil determined to convince her parents to allow part of Downton to be used for convalescing men.
Aunt Rosamund overhears Sir Richard Carlisle threatening Lavinia Swire, Matthew's fiancee, in the garden.
The first episode of the second series picks up the story in 1916 during World War I. Many changes have taken place at Downton Abbey because of the conflict which has greatly unsettled all the occupants. A new maid proves difficult and an announcement from Matthew Crawley stuns everybody, particularly Mary. Meanwhile, there are dramas and surprises for everyone from both above and below stairs as the war rages on and all are caught up in it in some way.moreless
In this final episode of series one, many changes are taking place within the Crawley household as the First World War looms. His Lordship is stunned to discover that Cora is pregnant, news which leaves Cousin Matthew wondering what his future will be if the baby is a boy.
Meanwhile, O'Brien mistakenly believes that she is about to be fired from her job while Thomas takes steps of his own to ensure his success when the hostilities inevitably break out. Lord Grantham has some devastating news for the guests at the annual Downton Abbey garden party.
Lady Sybil expresses her interest in politics to Lord Grantham, who isn't at all pleased to hear of her venture to the debate, and things take a drastic turn when she's injured at the bi-election results. Meanwhile, Lady Mary and Matthew continue to get closer, leading to a proposal of marriage, much to Cora and Violet's delight. However, the events surrounding Mr. Pamuk's death may put a spanner in the works.
Thomas continues his campaign to get rid of Mr. Bates from Downton with the help of O'Brien and a misguided Daisy by accusing him of stealing the wine from the cellar.
Two men vy for Daisy's affections, wanting to take her to the fair, while Sybil helps Gwen in her search for a new job. Violet has a favour to ask of Matthew. Mrs. Hughes takes an evening off to spend time with an old flame.moreless