The Collected Letters


Mary Crawley, Countess of Grantham


Matthew Crawley, 7th Earl of Grantham

Sybil Branson

To my darling niece and nephew, who asked me of the greatest story of Downton; this is my answer.


While in my time it had always been, for me, an object of disdain. And while I do not deny the fond moments I have scribed to my memories, I do admit now, how much I have overlooked in the years after. The story of Downton, as I had known it, as I had seen it, as I had shaped it, in my own little way, was a grand tale as any I have read. When Miss Branson came to me with the manuscript for this collection, I was filled with great gladness and nostalgia. I am proud to say that I knew the late Lord Grantham and Mary, Countess of Grantham. And I can only say that I feel as I know them more now.

-Sir Charles Ellis, author
(footman of Downton Abbey, 1940-1951)


You can imagine my sadness as my family and I watched as the doors of Downton were locked for good. The memory of that day, its vividness, its emotions, has never left me. August 15th, 1953. Aunt Mary looked over at me with her fiery eyes; although not quite as fiery anymore, and smiled. At that moment I had realized that she had given up. Pyrrhus would've been satisfied. She had said to me a couple of times in her life. I, then, knew what she meant.

Uncle Matthew had saved Downton but the battle had left scars. He had almost sold it a couple of times. But each time, he just couldn't. I'd like to think it was because of his love for Aunt Mary. In the end he managed to hang onto the estate but couldn't live in it anymore.

In the final days of the house, when we were packing, I had found a collection of letters that Aunt Mary and Uncle Matthew had saved. The majority of them dated back before the start of the Second World War. In the years after, when we would take our yearly trips back to Downton, I would always look for more letters and I found them.

When my niece and nephew asked me about Downton, and the last lords of the house and their stories, this was the only satisfactory answer I could give. These are the letters of Matthew Crawley, 7th Earl of Grantham, to Mary Crawley, Countess and back again. It is a tale of tragedy, it is a tale of love; it is a tale of majesty.

New York, New York
23rd October, 1982