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Downton Abbey Cast

Updated on February 3, 2013

Downton Abbey Cast & Characters ~Season One~

I recently watched the iTV series, Downton Abbey on my local public television station. I have to say, it is one of the best period dramas I have seen since last year's broadcast of Emma starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller. Back to Downton --- the best thing about this addictive series is the "upstairs, downstairs" aspect. What this means is that the show features the lives, hopes, dreams, and aspirations of not only the resident nobleman and his family, but also the servants of the household who live downstairs. The series is set in 1912, and begins with news of the Titanic sinking.

The thing that makes this interesting is the time period, right on the cusp of WWI - English society was changing. "Commoners" had limited options in England at this time, but in this film, horizons are beginning to widen. We see this reflected in the maid Gwen, who aspires to become a secretary (gasp!) and also in the footman, Thomas, who sees WWI as an opportunity for him to become involved in the medical profession. We also see some hopefulness in Branson, who seems to have a crush on Lady Sybil! It is inspiring and rare to see such growth and ambition in servant characters like those in Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey is not based on a book! The series was created by Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes.

Filming of Downton Abbey takes place at beautiful Highclere Castle located in Highclere, Newbury. For additional information on Highclere Castle please click HERE.

iTV owns all the copyrights. :)

Downton Abbey won Best Drama Series at the 2011 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards in London!

Season Two

The action in the seven-episode second season takes place over two years, just like the first season. "The second series is a similar sort of span," says Downton producer. "We start in 1916. The war will come to a conclusion within this series, and the final episodes is the time after the war."

Season Three

Downton Abbey returns for a third season! Season 3 will premiere in January 2013 in the US on PBS. Although the war is over, there is still plenty of drama at Downton in the form of social changes, romances, and personal crises. Click HERE for more information about the third season!

iTV Promo Video for Season One - Featuring "Every Breath You Take" as performed by Scala & Kolacny Brothers

Upstairs - The Crawley Family

Maggie Smith as Violet in Downton Abbey (2010)
Maggie Smith as Violet in Downton Abbey (2010)

Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith seems to nail her roles every time, and her acting in Downton is no exception. "The mother of Robert, Earl of Grantham, Violet is proud, loyal to her son and immensely insufferable to her American daughter-in-law Cora, whom she regards as an interloper, a living compromise the family has had to make" (pbs).

Maggie Smith also starred in: Harry Potter films, David Copperfield, A Room With A View, + many more.

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith Wikipedia

Why does every day involve a fight with an American?

-Violet (Dame Maggie Smith) on Downton Abbey

Robert, Earl of Grantham

Hugh Bonneville

Bonneville is excellent as the stately and dignified Earl of Grantham. Although he seems tough, Robert is very kind-hearted and this is evident throughout the series. I won't elaborate to avoid spoilers! "Robert, Earl of Grantham, is married to Cora, an American heiress, whose money helped put Downton Abbey back on its feet. The father of three, Mary, Edith and Sybil, Robert has an uncomplicated life until a succession crisis and a surprising clause in his marriage contract cause upheaval in his family and on the estate."

Hugh Bonneville also starred in: Miss Austen Regrets, Lost In Austen, Daniel Deronda

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Hugh Bonneville

Hugh Bonneville Wikipedia

Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey (2010)
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey (2010)

Cora, Countess of Grantham

Elizabeth McGovern

I really like McGovern as Cora --- she is beautiful and graceful, but also spunky and levelheaded. The Countess of Grantham is a lone American among the British, which I love! Her costumes are downright gorgeous. "Cora is the beautiful daughter of Isidore Levinson, a dry goods multi millionaire from Cincinnati. She arrived in England with her mother in 1888 at the age of 20, and was engaged to Robert by the end of her first season" (pbs).

Elizabeth McGovern also starred in: Clash of the Titans, The Scarlet Pimpernel

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Elizabeth McGovern

Elizabeth McGovern Wikipedia

Downton Abbey Season One DVD - This is the FULL version, with scenes not aired in the US!!

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Season 1
Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Season 1

Downton Abbey -- a sprawling, lavish Edwardian mansion nestled in the Yorkshire landscape -- needs an heir. Dame Maggy Smith stars as Violet, the stubborn Dowager Countess of Grantham matriarch of Downton. Hugh Bonneville stars as her son, the stoic, unflapple Lord Crawley. Elizabeth McGovern is his far-sighted American wife, Cora. From Academy Award-winner Julian Fellowes. This is the original un-edited UK version of the program. Includes The Making of Downton Abbey and A House In History.

 
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey (2010)
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey (2010)

Lady Mary Crawley, The Oldest Daughter

Michelle Dockery

Michelle Dockery plays the eldest and coldest daughter of Cora and Robert....her parent's desire for her to marry Matthew in order to keep Downton in the Crawley family is just one focal point in Downton Abbey. "Clever, good looking and cold, Mary must come to grips with the notion that the life she imagined for herself may not come to her as easily as she once suspected. Yet, as the oldest daughter, Mary continues to work to secure a suitable husband."

Michelle Dockery also starred in: Red Riding, Return to Cranford, The Turn of the Screw

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Michelle Dockery

Michelle Dockery Wikipedia

Lady Edith Crawley, The Second Daughter

Laura Carmichael

I think both of the younger Crawley daughters are not featured as often as they should be...their characters seem to take a backseat to Mary's drama. Carmichael's character Edith does make a bold move in one episode when she seeks to expose Mary's scandal, taking sibling rivalry and jealousy to an entirely new level! "Resentful of her sister Mary, Edith is good looking and less sought after, but no less ambitious. She is in a half-permanent rage that the interests of her beautiful sister are always placed above hers in any family plan" (pbs).

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Laura Carmichael

Laura Carmichael Wikipedia

Lady Sybil Crawley, The Youngest Daughter

Jessica Brown-Findlay

Sybil is probably my favorite of the Crawley daughters, played by the beautiful Jessica Brown-Findlay, she is the only daughter who seems to be even slightly interested in something other than herself. Her befriending of the maid Gwen makes me smile! :) She is the most visionary and forward-thinking of the three daughters.

"The family rebel, Lady Sybil Crawley is fiercely political and generally angered by injustice everywhere. Sybil exasperates both parents. She will go through the motions when it comes to the responsibilities of high society, but her true goals in life are well beyond what her parents consider the proper field" (pbs).

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Jessica Brown-Findlay

Samantha Bond as Lady Rosamund Painswick in Downton Abbey (2010)
Samantha Bond as Lady Rosamund Painswick in Downton Abbey (2010)

Lady Rosamund Painswick

Samantha Bond

Lady Rosamund is not featured in very many episodes of Downton, but she does play a role in interfering with Lady Mary's matrimonial decisions. Rosamund seems to think she can influence Lady Mary, although her motives for doing so are unclear. "Lady Rosamund is Robert's only sibling. She did not marry a great aristocrat, but the late Marmaduke Painswick, a banker, was immensely rich, so she has a good deal of freedom. She is devoted to Robert, but she feels it her duty to speak her mind on every possible occasion. Her interference in her familial decisions has a potentially disastrous result" (pbs).

Samantha Bond also starred in: Amy's View, Sharpe, James Bond films

IMDb: Samantha Bond

Samantha Bond Wikipedia

Which is your favorite Downton couple / maybe couple?

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Extended Family

Isobel Crawley

Penelope Wilton

I really like this spunky character played by Penelope Wilton. She is not afraid to take charge in stressful situations or to stand up to Violet, a memorable character! "Isobel is Matthew's widowed mother. She is the daughter of a doctor (her husband studied under her father) and she comes from the professional middle class. She embodies an entirely different set of values than those of the current Downton Abbey inhabitants, being far better educated than either Violet or Cora. Before long, she is in near constant confrontations with Violet. Isobel is intensely proud of her son" (pbs).

Penelope Wilton also starred in: Wives & Daughters, Lucky Jim

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Penelope Wilton

Penelope Wilton Wikipedia

Matthew Crawley

Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens plays Matthew Crawley, the third cousin who will inheritDownton Abbey given that daughters could not inherit property in this time (hmph!). Although some would consider themselves fortunate to have an inheritance, Matthew does not, until he falls for a certain Crawley daughter. "Matthew Crawley is a third cousin, once removed, of Lord Grantham. A practicing attorney, Matthew now finds himself heir to a large estate and is invited to move there. He eventually agrees, but only if he can continue to work. Cora is partly infuriated by this interloper and partly determined that he will marry one of her daughters" (pbs).

Dan Stevens also starred in: Sense & Sensibility, Dracula, The Turn of the Screw

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens Wikipedia

Guests to Downton Abbey [Season One]

Characters that visit Downton Abbey

-- Brendan Patricks as Evelyn Napier

-- Theo James as Kemal Pamuk

-- Charlie Cox as Duke of Crowborough

-- Robert Bathurst as Sir Anthony Strallan

-- David Robb as Dr. Clarkson

-- Jonathan Coy as Mr. George Murray (Lord Grantham's Lawyer)

Please click here for more information on the Downton cast!

Who is your favorite upstairs character?

See results

Own Downton Abbey today!

So you can watch whenever you like! Available in formats for the US and UK, also available on HD Blu-ray.

Downstairs - The Downton Staff

Mr. Carson, The Butler

Jim Carter

Mr. Carson's job is to keep everything running smoothly at Downton, and that's no easy task! Especially when complications from his past return to pay him a visit in one episode. "Carson is in charge of the pantry, wine cellar and dining room, and the male staff report to him. Carson has worked at Downton Abbey since he was a boy. He is endlessly nostalgic for the way things were, and consequently, he more or less becomes an agent for the Dowager Countess. His instinct is to support Lady Mary, whom he genuinely loves as a surrogate daughter" (pbs).

Carter also starred in: The Way We Live Now, The Wind in the Willows, Cranford, Return to Cranford, The Golden Compass, Alice in Wonderland

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Jim Carter

Jim Carter Wikipedia

Mrs. Hughes, Housekeeper

Phyllis Logan

I like the character played by Logan, Mrs. Hughes is full of determination and is in charge of the maids at Downton. "Responsible for the house and its appearance, Mrs. Hughes is also in charge of the female servants. There are three people in Downton who all believe they are head of it - Mr. Carson, Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes. Mrs. Hughes is probably right. She is unsentimental but moral and decent" (pbs)

Logan also starred in: Another Time, Another Place, All The King's Men

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Phyllis Logan

Phyllis Logan Wikipedia

John Bates, Lord Grantham's Valet

Brendan Coyle

Bates is probably my favorite downstairs character. He is so believable that I always find myself routing for him! Unfortunately, he has a past and will not allow himself to begin a relationship with Anna. "An ex-soldier, John Bates knew Robert during the Boer War. He arrives at Downton Abbey to take the position of valet, but Bates was wounded in the war and it has left him lame, which makes him both defensive and fiercely loyal to Robert for giving him another chance" (pbs).

Coyle also starred in: North and South, Lark Rise to Cranford

**Returns for Season 2**

More on Brendan Coyle

O'Brien, Lady's Maid

Siobhan Finneran

O'Brien is a tough and somewhat bitter character. Her bitterness toward Lady Grantham comes to a head in the final installment of Downton Abbey season 1. "O'Brien is a watchful, vengeful, malign spinster. She has sacrificed all thoughts of family and hearth to advance in her profession and now she is lady's maid to a countess, in a great house, which should make her happy. But it does not, because nothing will. She may seem to flatter Lady Grantham or Lady Mary or any of them, but ultimately she will always follow her own interest." (PBS)

Siobhan Finneran also starred in: The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard.

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Siobhan Finneran

Mrs. Patmore, The Cook

Lesley Nicol

Mrs. Patmore is one of my favorite downstairs characters, she is very easy to relate to and overcomes a serious eye problem in the series. She is constantly scolding and annoyed with Daisy. "Mrs. Patmore is in charge of the kitchen and kitchen staff. She does not accept that Mr. Carson has jurisdiction over her, nor, most of all, Mrs. Hughes, and religiously defends her rights and privileges, against all comers." (PBS)

Lesley Nicol as starred in: many musicals and plays on the London stage.

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Lesley Nicol

Thomas, First Footman

Rob James-Collier

Thomas is always scheming with O'Brien about ways to improve their situations. These schemes certainly add a lot of drama to the show, but are somewhat corrosive to the relationships they have with the other members of the Downton staff. "Thomas thinks he is a fine man and that most of his fellow workers know nothing. An unsavory character, Thomas is always on the lookout to move up or out of Downton. His natural ally in the house is O'Brien. They are both entirely self-interested, but loyalty is probably beyond him." (PBS)

Rob James-Collier has also starred in: Down To Earth.

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Rob James-Collier

Downton Abbey Theme

Anna, Head Housemaid

Joanne Froggatt

Anna is a very kind character who is always there to lend a helping hand to her friends. She seems content with her life, but is in love with a fellow member of the Downton staff, who will not let himself become involved in a relationship. "The highest ranking of the lower female servants, Anna feels she may have missed her chance at marriage. She is clever and resourceful, a thoroughly sympathetic character." (PBS)

Joanne Fraggatt has also starred in: The Bill, Coronation Street, Spooks, Life on Mars.

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Joanne Froggatt

Daisy, Scullery Maid

Sophie McShera

Daisy is a young maid who mainly works in the kitchen, and is often the bane of the cook Mrs. Patmore. She is also responsible for lighting the fires in the house. "Daisy is at the bottom of the heap. Daisy's mother was a true Victorian and Daisy is one of eleven children. Daisy is constantly in the firing line with Mrs. Patmore and develops feelings for Thomas." (PBS)

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Sophie McShera

William, Second Footman

Thomas Howes

"William, the second footman, is a fool. Given this, Thomas has no hesitation in using William to do half his own work. William has a crush on Daisy but she isn't interested in him as she is quite taken by Thomas." (PBS)

**Returns for Season 2**

IMDb: Thomas Howes

Gwen, Housemaid

Rose Leslie

Gwen is the one ambitious character in Downton Abbey that I actually route for. She is a sweet girl who has taken steps to become something other than a maid, although she is uncertain at first, she is befriended and helped by Sybil. "Gwen is essentially an ambitious girl. She works as a housemaid because it is the only profession open to the daughter of a farm worker, but she has big plans. She is the natural rebel of the female staff, albeit in a quiet way, and this makes her a natural ally of Sybil." (PBS)

Rose Leslie has also starred in: New Town.

Branson

Allen Leech

Branson is a very likable character, he is kind and knows his own mind. I am hoping something will develop between him and Sybil in season 2, they would make a great couple! "Robert's new, spirited Irish chauffeur, whose political ideologies aspire to a more modern society. Driving Sybil to a political rally, he discovers they have a meeting of minds, and with his encouragement, Sybil puts her beliefs into practice. However, Sybil's newfound enthusiasm leads her into danger for which Branson later feels responsible." (PBS).

Allen Leech also starred in: From Time to Time and Rome

**Returns for Season 2**

More on BRANSON (Allen Leech)

Allen Leech IMDb

Other characters appearing on Downton Abbey Season One

-- Helen Sheals as Postmistriss

-- Andrew Westfield as Lynch

-- Roger Morlidge as Artificial Limbs Man

-- Kevin Doyle as Molesley (Matthew Crawley's Butler)

-- Christine Lohr as Mrs. Bird

-- Nicky Henson as Mr. Charles Grigg (former friend of Mr. Carson)

Please click here for more information on the Downton cast!

Who is your favorite downstairs/staff character?

See results

Amazon UK

Downton Abbey: Series 1 [Region 2]
Downton Abbey: Series 1 [Region 2]

This period drama set in England leading up to the First World War, DOWNTON ABBEY tells the story of a community and its fiercely jealous servants while some loyal to their family who live, but the mischievous dream and plan for the betterment of love or adventure DOWNTON ABBEY written and created by Julian Fellowes boasting an all-star cast staring Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens, Penelope Wilton, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Siobhan Finneran, Joanne Froggatt, Rob James-Collier and Brendon Coyle. This prestigious ensemble brings the world of Downton to life with brilliance and passion with this period drama. Includes deleted scenes, commentary, The Making of Downton Abbey, and more!

 

More Downton Abbey!

Here are some links to more about Downton Abbey!

"In this series, people will live. People will die. Marriages will be made. Babies will be born."

-Rebecca Eaten

Elizabeth McGovern (foreground) and Hugh Bonneville (background) during filming of season 2.

Elizabeth McGovern (foreground) and Hugh Bonneville (background) during filming of season 2.
Elizabeth McGovern (foreground) and Hugh Bonneville (background) during filming of season 2.

What do you like or dislike about this series? Share your thoughts and comments right here!

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    • lyoness913 profile image

      Wendi Pembridge Skilling 2 years ago from Overland Park, KS

      Excellent hub. How I love Downton Abbey. This was beautifully written and well put together, voted up!

      -Wendi

    • pauly99 lm profile image

      pauly99 lm 4 years ago

      What an ending last night. I won't leave any spoilers for those who haven't watched. Just shocked.... that is all I have to say.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What else is there to watch on T. V????? The greatest t v show since Upstairs Downstairs from a long time ago. My friends and I are obsessed with Downton Abbey

    • wallyb1 profile image

      wallyb1 4 years ago

      This is a great lens....awesome job!

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 4 years ago from US/TN

      Wonderful lens! I adore Downton Abbey.

    • raelcalu profile image

      raelcalu 5 years ago

      I'm intrigue now...i think I'll be watching the season one and get back on this lens. I love period films and series. I first heard of this on the Globes and the Emmys.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      I haven't seen Downton Abbey but have it in my pile near the top. Great page.

    • Adele Jeunette profile image

      Adele Jeunette 5 years ago

      Downton Abbey is great fun. I'm looking forward to seeing the Titanic miniseries penned by the same writer, Julian Fellowes.

    • mjtaylor lm profile image

      mjtaylor lm 5 years ago

      Lovelovelove Downtown Abbey! Fun lens!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I am thoroughly enjoying Downton Abbey. I love the costumes, the manners and mannerisms, the scenery, the furnishings, and of course, the story.

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 5 years ago from Ohio

      I like it in every possible way. Watched Season 1 over two days and Season 2 almost in 1 day.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Can't wait for Season 3. This is a great show!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I avoid the TV, but might have to make an exception here. I keep seeing things about this series that intrigue me.

    • fugeecat lm profile image

      fugeecat lm 5 years ago

      I saw an episode of this show and it looks great. I hope I'll be able to watch more.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Having worked in service as a housemaid at a stately manor house in Yorkshire for the better part of ten years[1950s] I have difficulty in accepting the dialogue between the gentry and the servants below stairs.It all seems unbelievable to me.Not at all appropriate.

      It was customary for us young girls to greet the Lord and Lady with good morning madam /sir , other than that unless spoken to you went about your daily chores.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The page you have here is very detailed and accurate, great for anyone who hasn´t seen the series before. However in my case, it is just a reminder of why i love this show so much and to make me even more impatient about season three.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 5 years ago

      I have never seen this show, thank you for the wonderful introduction . . sounds like a fabulous series!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I just liked this tribute to the cast ... glad I browsed into your lens, if you like to browse lens too, mine has a great educational topic with poll questions for my readers to enjoy.

    • profile image

      resabi 6 years ago

      I watched and really enjoyed Season 1; am eagerly anticipating Season 2. The characters are superbly drawn and it's so sumptuous to look at.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

      I actually managed to miss seeing Downton Abbey somehow (I'm in the UK and didn't know about it when it was first aired) and am going to have to catch up with it on DVD. I love this kind of series and enjoyed the recent revival of 'Upstairs Downstairs'.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I haven't seen this show but heard about it on NPR and after checking out this lens, want to watch it. This sounds fabulous!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love this series! It's like stepping back in time to a lifestyle that's gone. The characters are well defined, and varied, and the scenery is beautiful. I love the interaction of the Crawleys and the staff, and how most of the staff have their own different loyalties. Great lens on a great series!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a wonderful review and tirbute to this wonderful sounding show, it certainly is new to me and can see that Downton Abbey could be addictive. I've always enjoyed shows with the upstairs/downstairs aspect. Very well done.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      never heard of it before :) adding to blog roll and blessings by squid angel this is the BEST lens i've ever seen in my life :)

    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 6 years ago from Corona, CA

      You have done a good job on the series and characters.