In this first episode, Lord Grantham and his family are reading about the sinking of the "Titanic" on 15th April, 1912. Lady Edith makes the passing comment as she looks at the newspaper that "I thought it was supposed to be unsinkable". This is important because many passengers, members of the public and even the hierarchy of The White Star Line who owned the ship believed this to be the case. Brochures and magazines printed at the time carried the words "practically unsinkable", including "Shipbuilder Magazine" which wrote a feature article saying the same. This became folklore and by the time the "Titanic" set out on her maiden voyage, just about everyone believed she could not sink.
Mr. Carson: I understand most of the ladies were taken off in time.
Lord Crawley: You mean the ladies in first class? God help the poor devils below decks. On their way to a better life. What a tragedy.
Violet: I didn't run Downton for thirty years to see it go - lock, stock and barrel to a stranger from God knows where!
Cora: Are we to be friends, then?
Violet: We are allies, my dear, which can be a good deal more effective.
Mr. Bates: (After seeing His Lordship's snuff box collection)Beautiful. Funny, our job, isn't it?
Thomas: What do you mean?
Mr. Bates: The way we live with all this. A pirate's hoard within our reach. But none of it's ours, is it?
Thomas: No, none of it's ours.
Mrs. Hughes: (after seeing Daisy by the fire)Oh, heavens girl. You're building a fire, not inventing it.
Duke of Crowborough: Why did you apologise to that man? It's not his business what we do.
Lady Mary: I always apologise when I'm in the wrong. It's a habit of mine.
(At the home of Mrs Isobel Crawley and her son, Matthew, in Manchester, the maid has just brought in the morning mail.)
Maid: First post, Ma'am.
Isobel: Thank you, Ellen.
(She hands one letter across the table to her son.)
Isobel: One for you.
Matthew: Thank you, Mother. (opens the letter and begins to read it) It's from Lord Grantham.
Isobel: Really? What on earth does he want?
(Matthew looking stunned)
Matthew: He wants to change our lives.
Dowager Countess: Don't you care about Downton?
(Lord Grantham turns, barely containing his anger.)
Lord Grantham: What do you think? I've given my life to Downton. I was born here and I hope to die here. I claim no career beyond the nurture of this house and the estate. It is my third parent and my fourth child. Do I care about it? Yes, I do care!
(Holding her fan up to her face to shield herself from the electric lights in the room.)
Dowager Countess: Such a glare! I feel as though we're on stage at the Gaiety (theatre).
Lord Grantham: We're used to it. I do wish you'd let me install it in the Dower House, it's very convenient. The man who manages the generator could look after yours as well.
Dowager Countess: I could never have electricity in the house. I wouldn't sleep a wink with all those vapours seeping about.
Mary: (looking at her evening dress in the mirror.) Oh, I hate black!
Sybil: It's not for long. Mama says we can go into half-mourning next month and back to colours by September.
Mary: It still seems a lot for a cousin.
Edith: But not a fiance?
Mary: He wasn't really a fiance.
Edith: No? I thought that was what you call a man you're going to marry.
Mary: I was only going to marry him if nothing better turned up.
Sybil: Oh! What a horrid thing to say.
Mary: Don't worry. Edith would have taken him, wouldn't you?
Edith: Yes, I'd have taken him if you'd given me the chance. I'd have taken him like a shot.
Daisy: Seems like a lot of food when you think they're all in mourning. (Surveying the large amount of food that is being prepared for the Crawley family and their guests.)
Mrs Patmore: Nothing makes you hungrier or more tired than grief. When my sister died, God rest her soul, I ate my way through four plates of sandwiches at one sitting and slept round the clock.
Daisy: Did it make you feel better?
Mrs Patmore: Not much, but it passed the time.
Daisy: Why are the papers ironed?
Mrs Patmore: What's it to you?
O'Brien: To dry the ink, silly. We wouldn't want His Lordship's hands to be as black as yours.
The episode won 3 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie, Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special and Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.
Even though filming for the outdoor scenes was done in Oxfordshire and showed several landmarks from that area, the Crawley family are actually supposed to live in North Yorkshire and often mention places from that location during dialogue between characters.
The location for the filming of Isobel and Matthew Crawley's house was done in an English village named Bampton, which is in Oxfordshire in the UK.
Sutton's Hospital, located in Charterhouse, London, was the location for the filming of all the hospital scenes in the series.
All the exterior and some of the interior scenes featuring Downton Abbey were shot at Highclere Castle on the Berkshire-Hampshire border near Newbury. The servants' quarters were constructed and filmed at Ealing Studios in London.
Thomas: I can't believe I've been passed over for Long John Silver.
Long John Silver is the central antagonist in the Robert Louis Stevenson novelTreasure Island.As Thomas is referring to Bates when he makes this statement, the reference to an antagonist seems appropriate.