Downton Abbey Season 3 Story Recap

Downton Abbey Recaps

Downton Abbey: A New Era is now showing in the UK and releases in U.S. cinemas on May 20. If you’re interested in the new Downton Abbey movie, you may want to brush up on everything that’s happened at Downton so far.

We’ll be providing Downton Abbey recaps of all seasons, plus a recap of the 2019 Downton Abbey movie.

Downton Abbey Season 3 Recap

Does the Crawley family accept Tom?

Tom and Sybil aren’t able to come to Downton from Ireland for Matthew’s and Mary’s wedding. That’s fine by Robert, as he’s worried about the scandal their marriage has caused.

However, an anonymous person sends the couple money to fund the journey. On their arrival, Tom struggles to fit in. Sybil begs him not to talk too much about Ireland and his liberal ideas. She wants her family to like him.

An old suitor of Sybil’s tries to make a fool of Tom and gets him talking about his polarizing views of Irish liberation. But Anthony Strallan notices that the man drugged Tom, and almost everyone comes around to Tom’s side.

Matthew asks Tom to be his best man, and Violet reveals that she was the one to send money. She says Tom is part of the family now.

How does Lord Grantham lose money?

Robert invests a great deal of money in a Canadian railroad company. But the company fails abysmally. As a result, he loses most of Cora’s fortune and will have to give up Downton. He informs Cora of this in tears.

Does Matthew inherit money from Lavinia Swire’s father?

It turns out that Matthew has the potential to save Downton Abbey. He learns that he may have been appointed to inherit the fortune of Reggie Swire–Lavinia’s father.

Mary encourages him to accept it. Otherwise, Downton is lost to them. But Matthew thinks it is wrong to profit from Lavinia’s death, seeing as he broke her heart. Mary accuses him of not being willing to save her family because of his own pride.

Do Mary and Matthew get married?

Mary later asks Matthew if they should call off their engagement. Matthew refuses. He says that, even if they don’t inherit money, their love transcends fortune. She agrees, and they kiss.

They marry, with everyone from Downton celebrating their union. They eventually return to Downton from their honeymoon. Though loving their new married life, Mary is still bitter toward Matthew for not trying to save Downton Abbey.

Does Edith marry Anthony Strallan?

Edith pursues Sir Anthony Strallan again, despite his age and paralyzed arm. Violet and Robert disapprove. They don’t want her to tie herself down to an older man.

At Violet’s behest, Robert convinces Strallan to give up on Edith. Edith points out to her father that so many young men were lost to the war. If he wants her to be happy, he’ll let her be with Strallan. He finally relents and gives her his blessing.

With Robert’s approval, Strallan asks Edith to marry him. But when the time comes for their wedding, Strallan stops the ceremony. He says he can’t proceed and leaves Edith at the altar.

Does Bates come back to Downton?

Anna decides to research Vera’s untimely death herself. After several months, she finally gets what she hoped for. She learns from Vera’s friend Audrey Bartlett that Vera poisoned herself.

Audrey testifies that she saw Vera baked arsenic into the pie that killed her. Bates is then released to be reunited with Anna and with Downton.

Does Matthew save Downton Abbey?

Violet and Mary conspire ways to get Martha–Cora’s mother–to save Downton. After months of their trying to get her to see the value of the estate, Martha explains that she can’t save Downton. Her husband’s money is tied up.

Matthew is officially declared the heir to the Swire fortune, but he still plans on giving it up.

That is, until he gets a letter Reggie Swire wrote before his death. It says that Reggie knew Matthew didn’t love Lavinia, but he wanted to leave him money anyway. Only when Matthew learns this does he agree to accept the inheritance and save Downton.

What does Edith do for the newspaper?

Violet encourages Edith to distract herself from the fact that Strallan left her. So, she writes to a newspaper and is granted her own column for writing about women’s rights.

Edith befriends her editor, Michael Gregson. He flirts with her, and she starts to fall for him, but soon discovers he is married. She nearly resigns from the paper, but he convinces her to stay. He says his wife is insane and that there are no legal grounds for a divorce.

Does Sybil die at Downton?

Sybil and Tom return to Downton, where Sybil goes into labor. Dr. Clarkson treats her, but Robert also calls in Sir Philip, an obstetrician. The doctors disagree on how to treat Sybil, but Robert sides with Sir Philip’s course of treatment.

Sybil gives birth to a baby girl. Later that night, however, Sybil has seizures. Dr. Clarkson says he can’t save her. Just as he thought, Sybil has eclampsia, but it is now too late to treat. Sybil dies with the rest of the family watching.

Does Tom Branson stay at Downton Abbey?

Tom names his daughter Sybil (Sybbie), after his departed wife. He decides to baptize the baby into the Catholic Church, against Robert’s wishes. He names Mary Sybbie’s godmother.

While he thinks of leaving Downton Abbey and moving to Liverpool, Cora tries to convince him to stay.

Meanwhile, Matthew finds that Downton hasn’t been managed properly. He brings up the state of Downton’s finances to Robert. Feeling Matthew is attacking his work, Downton’s manager resigns.

At Violet’s suggestion, Robert hires Tom as the new manager, so he can then stay at Downton Abbey with Sybbie.

Who is Lady Rose MacClare?

Violet’s great niece, Lady Rose MacClare, comes to Downton Abbey for a visit. Edith, Matthew, and Rosamund discover that she is a party girl and has a relationship with a married man. 

Matthew makes her promise not to see the man again. Rose agrees, but she swears them all to secrecy. Yet, Violet tricks Rosamund into telling her the truth. Knowing Rose’s activities, she decides to send the young woman away to Scotland to stay with another aunt.

What happened in the Downton Abbey 2012 Christmas Special?

Season 3 of Downton Abbey concludes with the 2012 Christmas Special, which occurs one year after Lady Sybil’s death.

The Crawleys join Lady Rose’s family for a visit in Scotland. There, Edith comes across her editor, Michael Gregson. Mary is suspicious as to his reasons for being in Scotland. At the Ghillies ball, Matthew learns about Michael’s wife. He doesn’t approve of Michael’s pursuit of Edith and encourages him to cease their courtship. However, Edith refuses to end their relationship. She’s sure of her feelings for him.

Edna, a new maid at Downton, presses Tom about not spending time with the servants. She flirts with him and wonders if he thinks he’s too good for them now. Mrs. Hughes ends up dismissing Edna for inappropriate behavior. She tells Tom he should not let anyone make him ashamed of his new life, and that Sybil would be proud of him.

Lady Rose’s father, Hugh McClare, tells Robert their home has to go. They’re nearly out of money. Added to that, he and Susan are planning to go to India. They wonder what to do about Rose, until Cora offers to host the young woman at Downton.

Does Matthew die at Downton?

Downton Abbey season 3 ends with Mary returning to Downton and going into labor. She and Matthew rejoice when she gives birth to Downton’s heir–a baby boy.

Everyone celebrates the occasion, marveling at how lucky they are. As they do, Matthew is driving. When a truck crosses his path, he swerves and crashes his car into a tree.

Mary is in the hospital with her newborn son, completely unaware of how Matthew lies motionless on the ground, dead.


That’s the story of Downton Abbey season 3 in a nutshell. Stay tuned for further story recaps in preparation for Downton Abbey: A New Era.

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