Downton Abbey had its fair share of drama and up and downs for the Crawley family and the staff that works for the illustrious Abbey. Through all these trials and tribulations, one of the more steadfast storylines were the ongoing romances for all of the characters, and as Shakespeare said, “the course of True Love never did run smooth.” Love was a permanent fixture in this household, so without further ado, (and in anticipation of seeing the new theatrical Downton Abbey movie I see this this weekend, (here are the Top 10 Best Couples on Downton Abbey.
10. Joseph Molesley and Baxter
I know what you may be thinking- Molesley and Baxter are not a couple. And it’s true they are not officially, romantically together. But not only are there definite hints that there could be, regardless their relationship is sweet-natured and based on mutual fondness, respect and understanding. She applauds and recognizes his fine qualities and he is there for her as she reveals the truth about her past. It’s true they may only ever be friends, but beyond the respect there is a clear spark and keen interest in spending time together as they both spent their days off for weeks visiting Pubs to help prove Mr. Bates’ innocence. It’s true, they did so out of the kindness of their hearts, but clearly they enjoy being together.
9. Lady Rose MacClare and Atticus Aldrige
Lady Rose is most definitely a free spirit, impetuous and very giving of her heart. She wears that heart of hers on her sleeve and cares not for convention or what is “expected” in 1920’s society. She follows her heart wherever it may lead. And from the romantic moment Atticus met Rose, acting as a true gentleman, and both displaying a respect and admiration for the other, as well as an undeniable attraction, there was a definite feeling that this one would be her one true love. Rose and Atticus come from different religions, and had many attempt to stop their nuptials, but they are a lovely example of two unprejudiced, kind individuals, loving each other deeply without fear.
8. Lady Edith Crawley and Bertie Pelham
Edith’s love life throughout the course of the series was often a tumultuous, sad and tragic one. She was left at the altar, had a dalliance with a married man, fell in love with another who was willing to do anything to marry her, only for him to be tragically killed, leaving her heartbroken once again, and pregnant with his child. It seemed like Edith was never going to find her happily ever after, and we all could not help but deeply feel for and possibly even relate to her. Enter the sweet, humble, unassuming Estate Agent Bertie Pelham. The two become fast friends which quickly blossoms into love, and although Edith has certainly loved before (she even admits to him as much), there is something different to Bertie. There is not only attraction and admiration and respect between them, but a sense comfort that someone like Edith had perhaps never felt. They are home to each other, so that even when the truth about her daughter is revealed and the trust between them seems irrevocable, in the end they find they don’t work without each other. When they two marry, Edith also becomes higher in nobility than the rest of her family, but that is not what matters. What matters is that Edith found a love that is unbreakable.
7. Isobel Crawley and Lord Merton
Great love stories need not only be about the young. Case in point: the lovely relationship that developed between Isobel and Lord Merton, two people both widowed, believing that another romantic relationship was not destined for them at this stage in their lives. Isobel had known and lost love (and her son), so was not really ready to open herself up again, while Merton was a man whose wife and him were not well matched , making many years for him unhappy. Isobel and him develop a warm friendship but he quickly loses his heart, and after some time, and overcoming obstacles (delightfully in many ways due to Violet’s help) to keep them apart from his children, she reciprocates and the two come together in love, ready for whatever time they have left on this earth together. Happily, it may be longer than they believed as his illness he feared would quickly end his life was not what it seemed, and the two can enjoy their golden years in a way neither dreamed was possible. Is that not a beautiful and heartwarming story.
6. Lady Mary Crawley and Henry Talbot
After the death of her beloved Matthew, it was uncertain whether Lady Mary would ever find true happiness again, and we as audience members surely had our doubts. She had her fair share of handsome suitors such as Charles Blake and Evelyn Napier, while for a while even Mary herself thought Tony Gilingham would be the man she could see spending her life with. While no one can ever replace darling Matthew in her heart (or the viewers’), if someone could fill that role it would have to be someone extraordinary and worthy. Without a doubt the charming, handsome race car driver Henry Talbot is that man. What makes Henry the right man for Mary is that they are truly equals. Not in wealth or social standing, but in the ways that matter as individuals. They are both strong willed and stubborn, both can both push and support each other, and of course have a strong passion for each other than cannot be denied. It felt like slightly masochistic to have Mary fall for a race car driver, considering the way Matthew died, but this was handled and addressed in a really believable and lovely way. So afraid to show vulnerability, in the end he is able to break through in a way she never thought would happen again. Her fear of losing him was profound, and his fear of not being with her so strong, that they were able to come together in compromise without either losing anything, except their hearts to each other.
5. Robert and Cora Crawley, Earl and Countess of Grantham
Love is such steadfast part of Downton Abbey so the patriarch and matriarch of the Abbey would hopefully be included as one of the show’s best couples. And while Robert and Cora had moments of near infidelity by Robert (the only storyline I truly disliked), and Cora foolishly allowing flirtation to almost go too far, they still remained faithful to their love for each other through thick and thin. In marriage, our vows always say for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, and when those times came Robert and Cora remained strong and supportive of each other, ready to face whatever may come . Some of their finest moments showed their tenderness and devotion in the comfort and quieter moments of their bedroom such as when Robert was fearful of losing everything after a bad investment, and laying their beloved dog between them during her final moments. Lord and Lady Grantham were not love at first sight, but they are love until the end.
4. Elsie Hughes and Charles Carson
Love stories come in many forms, and as I said with Isobel and Lord Merton, these stories need not only be about the young. But unlike the former, for the heads of the downstairs staff, the kindly Mrs. Hughes, and the stern but fair Mr. Carson have never known love and marriage, at least not in any true sense. It may have been at bit unexpected, but there was always a mutual respect and sincere friendship between the two, and even when they disagreed on things, it was clear how much they cared for each other. So when the time came for their first true sign of affection of holding hands as they gingerly stepped into the ocean waves, our hearts were touched. Of course that was topped as the romance bloomed and we saw a very sweet, and gentle relationship between two people who formed an deep love for each other in the twilight of their lives, no less beautiful or strong than if they were in their youth.
3. Anna Smith and John Bates
No other couple in Downton Abbey has gone through more frequent hardships than sweet and unfailingly loyal Anna, and stoic, strong, and loving Mr. Bates. The two found a kinship and understanding almost from the very start and love blossomed not soon after. But their garden was not always rosy. Quite the opposite as they dealt with the death of his cruel ex wife who framed him for her murder, where he spent many months in jail until finally proven innocent, and then not long after the vicious sexual assault of Anna by the truly evil Mr. Green, and poor Anna being accused of his murder. The vows for better or for worse never meant so much as these two had the absolute worst trials any couple should have to deal with. And yet through all their hardships the remained true and steadfast, making their happy moments all the more beautiful. Their happiness culminated in the birth of their son at the start of a new year, a signification that their lives from then on would no longer be filled with darkness, but a primrose path towards the sunshine.
2. Lady Sybil Crawley and Tom Branson
This love story is a classic one- a story of love across social status and obstacles from family and societal conventions. We have seen this story before where the servant, or poor boy falls in love with the girl of wealth and higher social status. In this case we have the Chauffeur Tom Branson, somewhat of a radical political wise compared to the Crawley family, quickly becoming enamored and falling for the middle Crawley daughter Sybil, equally politically minded and forward thinking, caring little for parties or high society life, and learning more about what truly matters in the world when she becomes a nurse in World War One. While she chides him for his forwardness when he makes his feelings for him known, it’s clear how much she cares for him too, and when she finally allows herself to let him completely in, they throw caution to the wind, defying her family in the name of True Love. Luckily her family comes around after they marry, and when she comes homes expecting a baby all seems like it will be a happy future. But tragedy befalls the couple when complications from childbirth takes Sybil’s life in one of the most devastating scenes in television history as Tom begs his wife not to leave him through his sobbing. Left with a baby girl that he names after his dearly departed, Tom finds his place in the world and the Crawley family, eventually, and Sybil’s loving, beautiful spirit will live on. But their love story will remain a tragic but profound one, and this couple a true testament to undying love.
1. Lady Mary Crawley and Matthew Crawley
Is there a more defining couple for Downton Abbey than Mary and Matthew? These two were the will they or won’t they couple from the start- the two who the family and the audience desperately wanted to fall in love and get together, with so much drama including misunderstandings, tragedies of war, and other fiancés coming between them. But it was clear the that these two were both best friends and passionately in love with each other. Some of their most romantic moments were some of the best moments from the show: their first kiss, their goodbye at the train station as Mary gives him a good luck charm to keep in safe in battle, (a misty morning classically romantic moment if we ever saw one), and the dance after he recovered the use of his legs, where their pull towards each other could not be denied resulting in a tender kiss. And lastly, the moment where Matthew at last proposed to Mary on a snowy winter’s night, the happiness that radiated from the couple shining as brightly as the softly falling snow surrounding them. This was the loveliest scene the show ever gave us. These two were simply destined for each other and their love was pure and brought out the best in them. Matthew saw a softer side that she rarely showed to anyone, and she helped him widen his views of the what the world should be. They were a true match. The two shared a happy marriage that was made even happier by the birth of the son. And even though their story ended tragically with Matthew’s untimely death in car accident, Mary and Matthew’s love lives on in through their son. And this couple remains the loveliest and most iconic emblem of the series.