Who plays mrs crawley in downton abbey?

Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley Grey, Lady Merton.

Isobel Grey, Baroness Merton, (nee Turnbull, previously Crawley) is a character on the series, Downton Abbey. She was played for all six seasons by actress Penelope Wilton.

Violet’s friend, crony and sometimes foil!

Isobel Crawley is a woman who involves herself in anything and everything that she deems as a good cause. She was most definitely a reformer, with the matching zeal.

She was brought up in a medical family. Her father, Sir John Turnbull and her brother, Edward, were doctors, and she herself trained as a nurse during the Boer Wars.

She later married a man named Reginald Crawley, who was himself a doctor; and with him, had a son named Matthew Crawley. After Reginald died, she and Matthew lived in Manchester, where he worked as a solicitor.

We first meet Isobel and Matthew at the end of the first episode of the series. A letter came to Matthew from Robert Crawley, the seventh Earl of Grantham, which changed their lives for good.

It turns out that Robert’s closest male heirs, James Crawley and his son, Patrick had died aboard the ill-fated Titanic. This named Matthew as the next male heir presumptive of Downton Abbey, a country estate in Yorkshire.

Upon their arrival at Downton, Isobel met up with Violet Crawley, a woman who didn’t much get along well with her at first, but as time progressed, they became friends, companions and cronies, although they still spat with one another on occasion!

She began working at Downton Cottage Hospital, where she would later become Almoner.

It was the idea of Isobel that would allow Downton Abbey to be a convalescent home for wounded soldiers. She had the able help of Lady Sybil Branson as nurse; with her sisters helping out as well.

She would later catch the eye of Richard Grey, the Lord Merton, who was the godfather of her later daughter in-law, Lady Mary Crawley Talbot.

Through Matthew and Mary, she is the grandmother of little George Crawley, the future 8th Earl of Grantham. George’s cousins, Marigold Gregson, and Sybbie Branson, would call her Aunt Isobel, as she was their great-aunt. (Matthew was their uncle)

George would call her “Grandmamma” so Mary’s mother, Cora Crawley, could be considered “Granny”. Sadly, Matthew would die in an automobile accident. She would become more of a part of the family as she was George’s grandmother.

Understandably, Isobel was devastated by her only son’s death, and mourned him for a long while. She would later take on a motherly role in the life of Tom Branson, and he would become more of a son to Isobel. He cared about her so much that he even would defend her against insults by Larry Grey, by calling his nemesis a bastard. A letter sent to her by Larry (which she withheld from Richard), denouncing Isobel’s engagement to his father, would cause a separation for a time between the two, but they would reaffirm their friendship.

The final season would see Isobel and Violet at odds once more during a large fight over what could happen to the Cottage Hospital. Isobel was for the merger of the town hospital with a larger hospital in the nearby city of York, while Violet was not, more so for the reason to preserve her power over the hospital.

Cora would side with Isobel as would Richard. Dr. Clarkson, the head of the hospital, would later join Isobel’s side, as he realized he wasn’t thinking of the people of town; Isobel also gained an ally in Violet’s daughter, Lady Rosamund Painswick. Violet would be replaced by Cora as president of the Hospital.

When it comes to Isobel’s engagement, it is Violet to the RESCUE!

Violet (Maggie Smith) defends Isobel against the snobbish Amelia Grey (Phoebe Sparrow) when the latter tries to derail her father in-law’s engagement to Isobel.

However, Violet’s friendship for Isobel and her concern for her welfare would be far stronger than her anger at her over the hospital.

This allowed the Dowager Countess to fight passionately for her friend when Larry and his snobbish wife, Amelia, would try to keep them apart.

Going on the reasoning of “When reason fails, try force!”, Violet, with Isobel in tow, barged into Cavenham House and demanded that Isobel be allowed to see Lord Merton!

The snobs declined, but Lord Merton came down anyway (which caused Amelia to scold her husband for letting him out of his sight!).

Isobel announced that after she talked with her fiancé’s valet, they would move his things to Crawley House, where she had lived since she came to Downton. Then she would also announce that she would marry him as soon as possible. Lord Merton was delighted, Violet was pleased, and the snobs were disgusted. After that, Larry, his brother, Tim, and Amelia were never mentioned or seen again. As a wrathful parting gift, Larry and Amelia would gain Cavenham House for their own, and as Isobel stated, “They can wallow in splendor, and much good may it do them.”

The newlyweds happiness was complete when it was revealed that Lord Merton did not have pernicious anemia, which was fatal; but had only iron-deficient anemia.

By the time, Lady Edith Pelham was married, she was known by everyone in the county as Lady Merton. She was clearly happy with her life.

There are lots of familiar faces ‘downstairs’ at Donwton Abbey in the movie (Picture: Splash News)

China tea sets and pinkies at the ready everyone, the Downton Abbey movie is out, and your favourite cast members are back both upstairs and downstairs to provide you with some postured period drama.

Three years after the series finished on television, Julian Fellowes’ hit ITV show is finally getting the silver screen treatment that its fans have long hoped for.

The film’s plot revolves around a visit from the royal family in 1927, which throws the Crawley family into disarray and sees them come face-to-face with King George V and Queen Mary.

Downton wouldn’t be half as good without Dame Maggie Smith and luckily the acting legend will be reprising her role as Lady Violet with her wicked one-liners and long-suffering looks.

Alongside Dame Maggie, the TV cast are joined by a host of new faces for the film, including Imelda Staunton and Killing Eve’s David Haig.

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See who is returning to the Downton Abbey cast for the movie and which famous faces are joining them for their big screen debut, below.

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Who is returning to the Downton Abbey cast for the movie?

As well as Dame Maggie taking another turn as Dowager Countess of Grantham, Downtown Abbey fans cast also expect to see the rest of the Crawley family back on our screens, including Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern as her mother Cora, Hugh Bonneville as the Earl of Grantham and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith.

The Crawley family are back on our screens again after three years (Picture: REUTERS)

There are plenty of familiar faces downstairs as well, with Lesley Nicol returning as Mrs Patmore and Sophie McShera back by her side as feisty kitchen hand Daisy.

Here’s the full list of the cast returning for the Downton Abbey movie:

  • Maggie Smith – Violet Crawley
  • Hugh Bonneville – Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham
  • Michelle Dockery – Lady Mary Crawley
  • Elizabeth McGovern – Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham
  • Laura Carmichael – Lady Edith Crawley
  • Allen Leech – Tom Branson
  • Douglas Reith – Lord Merton
  • Matthew Goode – Henry Talbot
  • Penelope Wilton – Isobel Grey, Baroness Merton
  • Harry Hadden-Paton – Bertie Pelham
  • Joanne Froggatt – Anna Bates
  • Sophie McShera – Daisy Mason
  • Robert James-Collier – Thomas Barrow
  • Phyllis Logan – Mrs. Hughes
  • Brendan Coyle – John Bates
  • Jim Carter – Charles Carson
  • Lesley Nicol – Mrs. Patmore
  • Kevin Doyle – Joseph Molesley
  • Raquel Cassidy – Phyllis Baxter
  • Michael Fox – Andrew ‘Andy’ Parker
  • Alice McCarthy – Nanny Harewood

Downstairs at Downton wouldn’t be the same without Mrs. Patmore (Picture: Focus Features)

Unfortunately Lily James, who played Lady Rose from 2012-2015 in the show, won’t be returning for the film.

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The actress told People: ‘My character Rose moved off to New York, so it would be far-fetched to bring her back.

‘I would have loved to have come back for a scene, but for a movie it can’t be like a Christmas special and it needs to be a focused storyline… There was no space for Rose.’

Who are the new characters in the Downton Abbey movie?

Imelda Staunton joins the cast of Downton Abbey for the move as Lady Bagshaw, the cousin of Lady Violet (Dame Maggie Smith) along with Kate Phillips and Simon Jones who play the monarch and Queen who visit the Crawleys in the movie.

Imelda Staunton – Lady Bagshaw

We can’t wait to see Imelda Staunton as Lady Bagshaw (Picture: Focus Features)

Kate Phillips – Mary, Princess Royal

Kate Phillips as Mary, Princess Royal (Picture: Focus Features)

Simon Jones – King George V

Simon Jones in Downton Abbey (Picture: Focus Features)

Stephen Campbell Moore – Captain Chetwode

Stephen Campbell Moore stars in the movie (Picture: Focus Features)

Perry Fitzpatrick – Chris Webster

Philippe Spall – Monsieur Courbet

Philippe Spall stars as Monsieur Courbet (Picture: Focus Features)

Andrew Havill – Henry Lascelles

Marina Baibara – Baroness Valerenay

Downton Abbey is in cinemas today.

MORE: Downton Abbey’s Rob James-Collier reveals reaction to ‘horrific’ gay storyline

MORE: How many seasons of Downton Abbey are there?

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How ‘Downton Abbey’ has changed – and how it hasn’t – as beloved TV drama jumps to big screen

Spoiler alert! This story contains significant plot points from the new “Downton Abbey” movie. Stop reading if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know.

When “Downton Abbey” ended its six-season run on PBS in March 2016, tart-tongued Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) struck against changing times, wishing she could remain in the past.

Well, “Downton” fans have the chance to return to the past and reconnect with the noble Crawley family and the sturdy staff of its English countryside estate in the big-screen edition of the beloved period piece (in theaters Friday).

As the series ended, viewers said goodbye to the familiar characters at New Year’s 1926, when Lady Edith Crawley (Laura Carmichael) married up; her sister, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), learned she was pregnant; Mary’s maid, Anna (Joanne Froggatt), and her husband, Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle), became parents; and ailing butler Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) retired.

Ranked:The best (and worst) TV-to-movie adaptations (including ‘Downton Abbey’)

The film opens in 1927, and much remains the same at Downton (though Lady Mary has had her baby), a likely source of comfort for fans who, like Violet, wish to nestle in Downton’s past.

Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), Earl of Grantham, receives a letter announcing an impending royal visit, much happier news than he received in the series premiere set in 1912: the sinking of the Titanic. Modernity, evolving family relationships and a stopover by King George V (Queen Elizabeth II’s grandfather) and Queen Mary reveal that life doesn’t stand still.

What can fans expect?Laura Carmichael promises upcoming ‘Downton Abbey’ movie ‘turns the volume up’

Here’s a look at how “Downton Abbey” remains the same and where it offers mild concessions to change.

Arriving at Downton Abbey

What’s familiar: The movie’s opening scene, which features a train chugging toward the countryside community of the Crawley estate, wonderfully mirrors another train ride that introduced the TV show’s very first episode. Gorgeous views of Downton Abbey (England’s Highclere Castle), accompanied by the TV show’s instantly identifiable theme music, immediately transport viewers back to 1920s Britain.

The twists: The earlier train carried Mr. Bates, then the new valet serving the Earl of Grantham. The film version carries a mysterious major who appears to be investigating the Irish Republican tendencies of Tom Branson (Allen Leech) but really has designs on killing the king.

Lady Mary, who had managed the estate with brother-in-law Tom, is running Downton solo and considering selling the castle and moving to a manor home. (Relax, fans. She doesn’t.)

Review: Rejoice! ‘Downton Abbey’ the movie is a two-hour episode – with another happy ending

Violet’s verbal reign

What’s familiar: To every “Downton” fan’s delight, Violet maintains her assassin’s skill in delivering devastating one-liners. The cutting countess gets a huge helping of withering asides.

The twist: Violet’s mind is as sharp as ever, but her body is failing. She reveals her impending demise to granddaughter Mary, who is so much like her. In a scene that Violet somehow makes both witty and touching, she says she considers Mary her heir: In the future, “you’ll be the frightening old lady (of Downton). You’re the best of me that will live on.”

In another surprise, there will be a new arrival as Violet nears her departure, as Edith tells her husband she’s pregnant.

The return of Mr. Carson

What’s familiar: Carson’s back! The proud butler, married to housekeeper Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan), had gone into involuntary retirement after developing palsy. Mary, worried that Carson’s successor, Barrow (Robert James-Collier), isn’t up to handling the royal visit, brings Carson back.

The twist: Carson, dedicated to decorum, initially objects to the staff’s planned insurrection against the haughty royal servants who seek to brush aside Downton’s downstairs dwellers. The Downton staff gets its way, winning the chance to serve the king and queen, and Carson is a pleased beneficiary of his subordinates’ creative treachery.

Barrow gets his own storyline

What’s familiar: Barrow remains the butler at Downton, having replaced Carson, but he remains somewhat apart, partly because he’s gay.

The twist: Barrow loses his job, at least temporarily, when Lady Mary reinstates Carson. With time on his hands, the younger butler befriends another gay man, the king’s valet, and is introduced to Yorkshire’s hidden nightlife, visiting a boisterous warehouse filled with jazz music and partying men.

After police raid the place, Barrow is saved from disgrace by his royal connection. The men share a kiss and the hope, however far in the future, of a chance to live a more open, happier life.

Not to the manor born

What’s familiar: Tom remains Downton’s inside-outsider, an Irishman, former chauffeur and husband of Crawley daughter Sybil, who died in childbirth. He partners with Mary’s husband, Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode), in a fledgling auto dealership and remains loyal to the Crawleys, even if he bridles under the crown.

The twist: There’s a new inside-outsider, Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton), the maid to wealthy Maud Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton), the queen’s lady-in-waiting and a Crawley relative. Violet rages when she learns Lady Bagshaw plans to make Lucy her heir, rather than will her fortune to Violet’s son, Robert.

In the biggest “Downton” surprise, Violet learns that Lucy is Lady Bagshaw’s out-of-wedlock daughter. She sees a budding romance between Lucy and Tom that could bring the Bagshaw fortune into the Downton estate. Plotting Violet? Now that’s familiar.

Downton endures

What’s familiar: As Carson and Mrs. Hughes leave the estate after the staff admirably handles the royal visit, all is well. Comfortingly, there’s a feeling that Downton and the Crawleys will be there far into the future.

The twist: Well, “Downton Abbey” and the Crawleys are here roughly a century later, but they’re fictional characters, and the real-life castle is known primarily as a TV and film set that does a heavy tourism business. That doesn’t matter. We’ll always have the “Downton” denizens in our hearts and on our screens.

Downton Abbey’s Penelope Wilton has given a small insight into what fans can expect from the upcoming and much-anticipated film adaptation.

And it sounds like it will feature the characters donning their best Edwardian finery for grandiose three-course dining on lavish long tables, with a measure of Violet Crawley’s withering observations (fingers crossed).

The actress will reprise her role as Isobel Crawley for Julian Fellowes’ movie, telling Good Housekeeping UK: “Hopefully people will enjoy the film… It has some very good set pieces in it and, when I say that, there are big scenes with a lot of people involved.

“It’s been very nice , and it’s been much shorter, so instead of seven months it was nine weeks; and it was very nice to see everyone again.”

Jason LaVerisGetty Images

The much-loved ITV period drama followed the aristocratic Crawley family and their team of dedicated servants on the fictional Yorkshire Estate, Downton Abbey, from 1912 until 1925. The series aired from 2010 until 2015, and fans have demanded a feature film to fill the Downton-shaped hole in their lives ever since.


It’s not known what creator and write Julian Fellowes has in store in terms of the film’s plot, but we know that all of the original cast will be returning for the big-screen outing – bar Lily James’ Lady Rose.

This includes Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates, Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley.

On the pressures of the film – set to be released in September 2019 – living up to fans’ expectations, Penelope continued: “The people outside feel the pressure more than we do. If you do a film, you do the script that you’re given. And we know each other, so we have a great shorthand with one another other. So it makes working together very nice.

“It’s very nice and extremely satisfying to see some of the younger members of the cast who really hadn’t done anything when we started, and they’re all having flourishing careers now so that’s very nice, too.”

Age UK/Scott Garfitt

Penelope is an ambassador for Age UK, and performed a reading at the charity’s annual Love Christmas Carol Concert at St Paul’s Cathedral.

“Age UK’s Love Christmas is such a magical event and I’m delighted to have been a part of it,” the star said.

“It’s a perfect opportunity for friends and family to come together and celebrate Christmas and, not only that, it’s an ideal way to support such an important cause.

“Age UK’s work is crucial in tackling the loneliness epidemic. It is sad to think that so many older people have no one to turn to but funds raised at Love Christmas will help make a huge difference to their lives.”

Age UK believes no one should have no one to turn to for support at Christmas. Love Christmas will help the charity make a crucial difference to the lives of older people. Age UK wants to ensure they’re there for everyone who needs them.

The Age UK Advice Line is a free telephone service, open 365 days a year, offering expert advice on a wide range of issues, which include coping with bereavement, tackling loneliness, getting the social care that’s needed and managing health problems such as dementia.

As the much-loved series comes to a close, Penelope Wilton opens up about life at Downton Abbey.

For the last six years, the lives of the Crawley family, their social circle and their staff have captivated the world. Premiering to a British audience of nine million in 2010, Downton Abbey has grown to be one of the most widely-watched TV dramas in history, reaching a global audience of 120 million.

The closing episode of the sixth series is the penultimate glimpse into ITV’s fictional Yorkshire estate. The special episode broadcast on Christmas Day will be the last.

Penelope Wilton, who’s played the kind and principled Isobel Crawley since the first series, is just as sorry as the audiences to see the show end. “It’s been a great experience and it’ll be sorely missed,” she says softly. “You never take anything for granted, I have to say, and we’ve always known it would have to finish.”

She can indulge, like the rest of us, in repeated episodes (“I do watch it from time to time,” she smiles. “I usually wait for the box set to come out”) but she appreciates that it’s right for the story to come to a close. She adds, “It’s rather better to leave something when people still want to know about it, rather that wait for it to lose its momentum and just become yet another show on TV.”

Of course, with a career spanning four decades, Penelope is certainly an expert on the industry. Born in Yorkshire to a thespian family (her uncle was the actor Bill Travers, her mother was a tap dancer and performer, and her maternal grandparents were theatre-owners), the 69-year-old caught the acting bug at a young age.

“I’d never worked on anything for that length of time before. It really has been extraordinary”

Her TV acting career began in 1972 with Mrs Warren’s Profession, and she became a household name thanks to 1984’s Ever Decreasing Circles, in which she starred with the late Richard Briers. Downton Abbey, however, has been a record for her too. “I’d never worked on anything for that length of time before. It really has been extraordinary.”

Aside from the costumes and sets, what she’ll miss most is “the wonderful camaraderie with my fellow actors”. The cast, of course, boasts myriad famous figures, including Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Brendan Coyle. And many of the younger actors—such as Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens—have become household names thanks to the international success of the show.

“The relationship with my fellow actors has been hugely important,” continues Penelope, with a touch of shyness. “When you work with people a lot, after a while you develop a bit of a shorthand with them. You can do more subtle things because they know their character, you know your character, and you know them very well.”

The inimitable Dame Maggie plays the hilariously caustic Violet Crawley, whose traditional views often jar with Isobel Crawley’s more liberal stance. “I certainly have that shorthand with Maggie.”

Penelope Wilton: I’m not sad about the end of Downton Abbey

The news that Downton Abbey is ending after the sixth series has left many fans of period costumes, indignant butlers and arched eyebrows feeling bereft – but one member of the ITV drama’s cast isn’t quite so sad to see the series end.


“I’m not upset about it,” Penelope Wilton said backstage at the Olivier awards shortly after winning best actress for her role in Mark Hayhurst’s Nazi Germany-set play Taken At Midnight. “When something has run its course, it’s good to end on a high note.”

The actress – who plays Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey – added: “And we have to move on from 1926, and if we moved on much further I’d be dead.”

It sounds like we won’t see cousin Isobel in any 1970s-set Downton spin-offs, then – though Wilton wouldn’t rule herself out of Julian Fellowes’ next series The Gilded Age, which will be set in late 19th century New York. Fellowes has said he would consider casting Downton Abbey actors in new roles in the NBC drama.

“Well, we’ll have to see,” she told RadioTimes.com. “You can’t second-guess Julian.”

Wilton was up against fellow stage veterans Gillian Anderson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Imelda Staunton for her best actress Olivier – which is unusual at the annual theatre awards.

“I hadn’t really taken onboard, because I suppose they are all over 40, and I’m certainly the eldest,” Wilton said.


“That doesn’t often happen, but it’s happened this year – and I’m thrilled, because you spend your life practising, and you get better as you get older – you hone your craft more. And then to find there’s nothing for you having honed your craft to do…is rather sad. So it’s very good that there are those parts.”