A chronicle of the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era—with great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy.
It is now 1925, when secrets and rifts threaten the unity of the family, while those below stairs are faced with social changes.
Lady Mary's meddling gets Mr Carson into trouble with Mrs Hughes. Cora and Violet lock horns over the hospital takeover plans. Robert has a tough decision to make.
Preparations for the wedding of Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes are under way. Edith meets up with an old acquaintance. Spratt has something to hide.
As Tom and Sybbie settle back into life at Downton, the family and servants are surprised by the return of another old friend in unexpected circumstances.
Neville Chamberlain visits Downton for dinner, and is drawn into Violet’s plan to save the hospital, with distressing consequences for everyone. Andy finds an unexpected confidante while helping Mr Mason move into Yew Tree Farm, Mary is uncertain if she has met her match, Edith meets Bertie Pelham in London, and Spratt comes to Denker’s aid. Mrs Hughes struggles to keep Carson happy, while Mary thinks secrets are being kept from her.
The house is made open to the public to raise money for the hospital, an act that divides opinions among the family and the servants. Tensions between Violet and Cora come to a head as a decision is made about the hospital takeover, Mr Dawes has a proposition for Molesley, and Baxter is thrown into turmoil by an unexpected letter. Carson is not happy with Thomas, while Mary and Edith hope to overcome their past and find new happiness with the men in their lives.
The Crawleys watch Henry compete in a motor racing event, an occasion that leaves Mary reeling. Violet hatches a plan which surprises the family and delights Miss Denker, and learns more about Amelia's intentions in befriending Isobel. Molesley and Daisy rise to the challenges of examination day, Andy's secret is brought to light, Thomas feels isolated, and Mrs Patmore and Mrs Hughes teach Carson a lesson.
Bertie's circumstances change suddenly, leaving Edith uncertain whether to risk telling him the truth or keep her past a secret at all costs. Mary wonders if she can ever make peace with her sister as hostilities escalate, Spratt shows some hidden talents and Molesley's first day as a teacher does not go according to plan. Mrs Patmore's bed and breakfast attracts unwanted attention, leaving her in need of the Crawleys' help.