Previously I wrote about the ghosts of Highclere Castle, a.k.a where the Masterpiece Classic Downton Abbey is set. But what if Downton Abbey was haunted? There have certainly been enough deaths in the regal house to account for ghosts.
I thought it’d be fun to take a look at the people connected with Downton Abbey who have perished there. Or, in a couple of cases, who did not perish there but whose deaths definitely haunted the Crawley family just the same.
JAMES CRAWLEY AND PATRICK CRAWLEY
Robert, a.k.a. Lord Grantham the 6th Earl of Grantham, is the patriarch of the Crawley family, who reside in Downton Abbey. The series begins with a dilemma of sorts. Robert’s cousin James Crawley and his son, Patrick, are among the first class passengers sailing on Titanic‘s maiden voyage who perish in the sinking.
James and his son are Robert’s heirs because Lord and Lady Grantham’s marriage only produced daughters. Their eldest, Mary, was expected to marry Patrick. Instead, a new heir to the earldom must be found. That’s where Matthew Crawley, Robert’s third cousin once removed, comes in.
Although Patrick’s ghost has never been seen, one of the kitchen maids, Daisy, once referenced the Titanic tragedy and how his ghost could’ve come back to haunt Downton Abbey. There is also a gentleman who appears in Season 2 claiming to be Patrick Crawley. He’s a wounded soldier who says he developed a case of amnesia after the Titanic tragedy, spent six years living in Canada, and it’s only after he’s injured in an explosion during World War I and requests to convalesce at Downton (which becomes a convalescent home for wouned soldiers in World War I) that his memory returns.
However, it’s pretty fishy he’s really Patrick. He ends up disappearing without his true identity being revealed. He may come back to “haunt” the family at some point again.
KEMAL PAMUK – THE TURKISH AMBASSADOR
Mary Crawley, Lord and Lady Grantham’s oldest daughter, starts out as a bit of a bad girl. Well, really she’s just more a shameless flirt, but Kemal Pamuk’s arrival proves to be the cure for her saucy ways.
Pamuk is a Turkish diplomat and arrives at Downton Abbey with Evelyn Napier. Napier has been invited there to a fox hunt. Lady Crawley invites him to stay with them, and extends the invitation to the Turkish diplomat, who Napier is looking after while he’s in England.
Napier has an interest in Mary Crowley, and she thinks she might be interested in him -until she meets Mr. Pamuk. Pamuk is quite aggressive in pursuing her, and Mary finds she can’t resist him. They end up in her bed together –where Mr. Pamuk has the rude manners to die during their tryst.
In the middle of the night, Mary, her maid, and Mary’s mother scramble to move Mr. Pamuk to his bed where he will be found in the morning and no one will be the wiser about who’s bed he really died in. Or so they hope. It of course doesn’t work out that way. Eventually people find out about the scandal, which tarnish Mary’s image and haunt her chances of procuring a suitable marriage.
WILLAM MASON, SECOND FOOTMAN
William is one of Downton Abbey’s finest servants and most liked people among the downstairs staff. He’s a stand up fellow who’s absolutely smitten with Daisy, the scullery maid. When Matthew Crowley goes to the front, William is sent with him.
William ends up sacrificing his life to save Matthew’s when he throws himself in front of an incoming shell. Both Matthew and William are injured, but William’s injuries prove more severe. He’s brought back to Downton to live out his dying days.
Before he passes, he only has one wish: that Daisy be his wife. Daisy doesn’t reciprocate William’s affections, but Mrs. Patmore, the Cook (and basically Daisy’s boss/mother figure) persuades her to first let William think she’s his sweetheart when he leaves for the front. Mrs. Patmore knows if he doesn’t come back, at least he’ll have had the happy moment of thinking he was loved. When he does come back, albeit injured, Mrs. Patmore encourages Daisy to grant his dying wish and give him some peace in his passing.
Daisy is super conflicted about this. She doesn’t like lying to him or being dishonest. Even after William passes, she then has his dad to try and please. Mr. Mason wants her to be more a part of his life, but she feels like that would be a lie since she didn’t really love his son.
When he invites her to his farm, she evades the invitation as much as she can. It’s actually Mrs. Patmore and a spirit board some of the other downstairs staff have brought into Downton Abbey that she uses to convince Daisy to see him. (Which she does, and she even confesses her true feelings towards William. Mr. Mason is fine with it. He basically adopts her as his daughter, and since she’s never had family, Daisy ends up finding people to call her own and care for her.)
When Mary jilts Matthew before the War, he ends up finding a new love interest, the lovely Lavinia Swire. When the Spanish Flu sweeps through Downton Abbey, she becomes one of its victims –but she’s one that doesn’t recover.
Though some theorize it’s not the Spanish Flu that kills her, but a broken heart. She catches Mary and Matthew stealing an impromptu dance and kiss when they think everyone else is asleep. She had been unwell, but felt better until that moment. She returns to her room and has a relapse that proves to be fatal.
However, even though Matthew is racked with guilt and tormented beyond belief about Lavinia’s death, she harbors no grudge. She’s a gentle spirit. In fact, it’s believed she’s the one who communicates through the spirit board that Anna and Daisy are using when they receive a message that spells out: “May they be happy. With my love.”
MRS. VERA BATES
Though Mrs. Vera Bates, the ex-wife of the gentle and much respected John Bates, Lord Grantham’s valet, wasn’t murdered at Downton Abbey, her ghost haunts the house just the same. John Bates is accused of her murder, and then is later found guilty of the crime. He’s sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, away from his beloved Anna, the Head Housemaid.
Vera and John’s marriage was not a happy one. Eventually, through much cajoling on his part and some might even say a bit of bribery using a considerable inheritance he received upon his mother’s passing, John gets a divorce from Vera.
However, Vera always begrudged John any happiness. She certainly doesn’t want him to find happiness with the head housemaid, which he is trying to do after the divorce. When Vera finds out, she returns to the divorce judge and tells him John paid her off to consent to the divorce, which makes the judge void their divorce and means John and Vera are still married.
John is furious when he finds out and goes to confront Vera. It’s not clear what happens. All he says is the meeting didn’t go well. The next day Vera’s found dead from rat poison.
John’s pinned with her murder and another scandal encompasses Downton Abbey. Vera, it seems, has found a way to haunt him and prevent him any happiness with Anna after all.
That’s how Season 2 left off. Mr. Bates’s fate might change come Season 3 and perhaps Vera’s soul will be laid to rest after all.
Interestingly, the Turkish ambassador’s scandal also came into play with the Vera Bates storyline. She gets a job in household of the Marquess of Flintshire. The Marchioness of Flintshire is Lord Grantham’s cousin. It’s here where Vera learns about Mary’s tryst with Kemal Pamuk. She uses the threat of revealing the scandal of Pamuk dying in Mary’s bed to prevent John from divorcing her for a bit in the beginning.
Her plan to keep John from Anna and also bring shame on the Crawley family backfires when she goes to sell Sir Richard Carlisle, a media mogul and Mary Crawley’s beau at that time, the scandal. He already knows of it and has been keeping it out of the press. (This all changes when Mary’s dumps him, though. But for a while he kept her secret safe and at least it wasn’t Vera who had the pleasure of revealing it.)
DEATH IN SEASON 3
A new possible ghost to roam Downton Abbey’s halls will be added to the list after Season 3 concludes. I know who it is but I don’t want to reveal it because I don’t want it to be true. Nor do I want to spoil it for any Downton Abbey fans who don’t know yet and are looking forward to the new season with high hopes for everyone to find a happily ever after.