Five lesser-known Downton Abbey characters

Meet 4 lesser-known characters from Downton Abbey

The PBS drama Downton Abbey is a cult hit, with characters like Mr. Bates, Lady Mary and Cousin Matthew capturing the hearts of TV viewers. But there are other characters on the show, too. And if you’re new to the program, like so many viewers who are just tuning into the second season, then you might not be aware of some of these important minor characters.

1. Earl of Sussex, Lord Johnson Turner
Lord Turner’s attempts to court Lady Mary have been stymied repeatedly through a series of tragic-comic events. During their first meeting at a society ball the lordship’s introduction was interrupted when a crow absconded with his cap. Upon their second meeting, at the county fair, Lord Turner recited a poem for Lady Mary but was interrupted when a spooked horse trampled Livinia Swire’s brother. Ever determined, Lord Turner arranged a secret midnight rendezvous with Lady Mary, but when he climbed the trellis to her room it collapsed and he fell into a barrel of soiled biscuits. Moved by his dogged pursuit, Lady Mary tried to express her love to Lord Turner via carrier pigeon, but it was winged by Lord Turner himself during a pigeon hunt and fell into a pond and drowned.

2. Camilla, Dowager Countess of Fairfield
As the best friend of Robert Crawley’s meddling mother, Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Camilla is 10,000 percent more bitch. It was Camilla who, at Lady Edith’s 19th birthday party casually remarked, “Are we celebrating the birth of this young woman or the death of her losing her virtue honorably?” It was Camilla who, upon seeing Mr. Bates limp through the house said, “Is he to set out the lordship’s clothes tomorrow morning, or be shot in the stables and sent for glue?” And PBS viewers were never more shocked than the time when Camilla called out closeted Thomas the footman during dinner and said, “You all know he’s a chutney ferret, right?”

3. Jake Sapp, stable boy
Although he’s only 12 years old, Jake Sapp is the only man the hardheaded Lady Mary has ever loved. “It’s not fair,” Lady Mary told servant Anna during one particularly powerful scene last season. “I love him, but father will never allow it. So what if he is just a stable boy? So what if he has no money or no education? So what if the graces of manhood have yet to adorn his underarms? There is no mistaking love. I love Jake.” To which Anna responded, “Perhaps you love him, Lady Mary, because you know it can never be.” To which Lady Mary responded, “That makes a lot of sense.” Then she turned to the window, looked out toward the stable, clutched her breast and moaned, “Still, I pine.”

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4. Carol, maid
Carol has never had a line of dialogue, but she is present in every scene in which more than two members of the staff are performing some task, such as cleaning a bedroom or setting the dining room table or greeting a guest arriving at Downton Abbey. Carol longs for fluffier pillows, better table settings and a more dignified greeting of guests arriving at Downton Abbey, but her wants are constantly denied by characters with dialogue and story arc. So she bides her time, waiting for WWI to kill off enough characters until she can finally whip Downton Abbey into a proper state.

5. Major Edward ‘Carl’ Smith
With 61 confirmed kills, the WWI flying ace is Britain’s highest scoring fighter pilot of WWI. He and Lady Mary meet in London after the war when he pulls her out of the street to prevent her from being trampled by a team of horses. That night he prevents an assassin from shooting Lord Crawley and whisks a shocked Violet to the hospital, which doctors credit with saving her life. Smith flies Lady Mary back to Downton Abbey on his plane, where she sees the beauty and the splendor of the land she has always lived and always resented from a whole new perspective. When the flying ace and Mary land, they are greeted by smiling family and staff. But Mary immediately rushes away from Smith, runs to Anna and begs, “Where’s Jake?” But Anna is silent, because Jake has taken a lover, 58-year-old housekeeper Mrs. Hughes.


Author: Joe Donatelli

Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles. He publishes The Humor Columnist.