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Downton Abbey: A New Era ending explained

Downton Abbey: A New Era ending explained
Downton Abbey: A New Era sees the family heading to the South of France. (Image credit: Ben Blackall / © 2022 Focus Features LLC)

Downton Abbey: A New Era has been a huge hit with theatergoers so far, but what happens at the end of the movie? Here we answer your most pressing questions about the film's plot, like does Violet Crawley die? 

Downton Abbey: A New Era is a movie of two halves — on one hand, we have got a film production company wanting to use the house as a location for their new movie, and elsewhere there is also a sunny trip to the South of France for some of the family. 

But as Lord Grantham heads to Côte D’Azur after it is revealed that Dowager Countess of Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith) has been left a beautiful villa after a secret dalliance with a handsome Frenchman, Violet herself is left at home at Downton with her eldest granddaughter, Mary, where despite her ailing health she still manages to steal every scene she's in. 

But what happens at the end of Downton Abbey: A New Era? Here is everything you need to know... 

*WARNING — spoilers for Downton Abbey: A New Era below*

Is Violet Crawley still alive?

Downton Abbey: A New Era

Violet takes center stage in Downton Abbey: A New Era. (Image credit: Ben Blackall / © 2022 Focus Features LLC)

It's a sad time for Downton fans, because yes, in the latest movie Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, does die at the end. 

It was hinted at the end of the first Downton Abbey movie that Violet Crawely (played by Dame Maggie Smith) wasn't long for his world, and the second movie then sees Violet dropping a huge bombshell on her family about a romantic dalliance in her past before passing away in a hugely emotional scene with her family all standing around her deathbed. Of course, she doesn't depart before offering some classic words of wisdom and more hilarious quips to her nearest and dearest — what a woman! 

Does Tom Branson remarry in Downton Abbey?

Downton Abbey: A New Era

Tom and Lucy get married at the start of Downton Abbey: A New Era.  (Image credit: Ben Blackall / © 2022 Focus Features LLC)

Yes. The film opens with the wedding of Tom Branson marrying Lucy Smith in a beautiful ceremony. The pair share a happy day with their friends and family around them, before going on a trip to the French Riviera where they later discover Tom's daughter Sybie will inherit the luxurious villa. 

But it isn't just villas in sunny France that put a smile on the happy couple's faces, because before the end of the movie the pair also discover they're expecting a baby together and in the final scene of the film, they are seen visiting Downton with their baby together.

Does Lord Grantham have an illegitimate son?

Downton Abbey: A New Era

Lord Grantham wonders if there are skeletons in his family closet in Downton Abbey: A New Era. (Image credit: Ben Blackall / © 2022 Focus Features LLC)

No. While Lord Grantham doesn't have an illegitimate son (well, not that we know of, maybe a plot for a future film?!) it was thought in Downton Abbey: A New Era that he himself might be the lovechild of Violet and Montmirail — a handsome Frenchman that Violet had a summer of romance with back in 1864.

Despite the film focusing on the fact that Lord Grantham thinks his entire childhood has been based on a lie, it turns out that his father is in fact Patrick Crawley. While on her death bed, Violet confirms to Robert that he is indeed the legitimate son of herself and the previous Lord Grantham, leaving him relieved.

Do Molesley and Miss Baxter get together?

Downton Abbey: A New Era poster

Miss Baxter and Mr Molesley get engaged in Downton Abbey: A New Era.  (Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Yes, after years of secret feelings for one another, Downton Abbey: A New Era finally sees Miss Baxter and Joseph Molesley getting engaged. 

Miss Baxter has been waiting for Molesley to get down on one knee for a while now, but he always thought he wasn't worthy of her hand in marriage with only a school teacher's wage in his pocket. However, when he gets the offer of a lifetime and is hired as a screenwriter by movie maker Jack Barber, Molesley finally plucks up the courage to propose. 

The pair share what they think is a private moment as Molesley proposes, only to discover that the entire film crew and house staff have heard every word through the filmmaker's microphone.

What is wrong with Cora Crawley?

Downton Abbey: A New Era

Cora has a worrying storyline in Downton Abbey: A New Era. (Image credit: Ben Blackall / © 2022 Focus Features LLC)

Alongside trips to France and famous movie stars descending on Downton, there is also a storyline in the new movie that sees Cora hiding the fact she thinks she's seriously ill. 

She eventually comes clean to Robert while in France, where she confesses that she has been under the weather and fears she could die. The pair make a grim trip to the doctor where he tells them he will carry out more tests to find out what is wrong. 

Thankfully by the end of the movie, the doctor arrives at Downton to break the good news to Cora that she doesn't have cancer and is actually suffering from a form of anemia, which is easily treated. Phew! 

Does Violet marry in Downton Abbey?

Downton Abbey Maggie Smith

Downton Abbey's Violet is played by the legendary Maggie Smith. (Image credit: ITV)

Violet has been married in the past, having married Patrick Crawley, the sixth Earl of Grantham before Downton Abbey the TV series started. Violet shared two children with Patrick, Robert, the seventh Earl of Grantham, and Rosamund, who married a man named Lord Marmaduke Painswick and lives in London.

Check out our new movies in 2022 guide for more films to enjoy. Here's how to watch Downton Abbey: A New Era.

Claire Crick
Claire Crick

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 


After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off


She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 


As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.