The Best Kisses In Downton Abbey
During its six-season run, Downton Abbey gave us all of the Edwardian soap opera-style drama we could desire. Set in a fictional British estate, the show follows the surprisingly intruding lives of the Grantham family and their troop of live-in servants.
One thing that Downton Abbey does really, really well is romance. With will-they-won’t-they couples like Mary and Matthew, star-crossed couples like Anna and Bates, and slow-burn, homespun couples like Carson and Mrs. Hughes, this show gave us all kinds of love stories. For a show set over a hundred years ago, there’s more than enough PG-13 content to keep you going. We’ve taken a look back through the show’s history to bring you the best kisses from the series. Even though some of our favorite couples didn’t make it to the end of the series, it’s always fun to relive their best moments together. Want to remember the best romantic moments? Here are the best kisses on Downton Abbey.
Matthew and Mary have their first kiss at the dinner table: Downton Abbey Season 1, Episode 6
For many fans, Downton Abbey‘s best couple was Mary and Matthew. Their love story followed a pretty classic trope: girl meets boy, they dislike each other, they slowly warm to each other, they almost get together, and something gets in the way. When the pair first express their feelings for each other in episode six of Season 1, fans were thrilled.
The kiss finally comes in an intimate scene after a family dinner. After Matthew gently teases Mary for some of the cruel things she used to say to him, she retorts, “Matthew, what am I always telling you? You must pay no attention to the things I say.” With that, the couple lean in for the romantic, long-awaited kiss.
In “Behind the Drama,” Dan Stevens spoke about the scene. “It’s quite a bold move in those times to be left alone having sandwiches over a dining table. It’s much more racy than it sounds,” he said. He went on to explain that he enjoyed the scene “because suddenly the electricity that has been sparking around and building up over the course of the series, you’re allowed to light the lightbulb.”
Anna and Bates kiss for the first time: Downton Abbey Season 2, Episode 1
Downton Abbey’s Anna and Mr. Bates may have initially seemed like an unlikely pair, but they soon became fan favorites. The sparks between the two characters begin almost as soon as Mr. Bates arrives at the house in the first episode. When the kiss finally comes, it felt like we’d been waiting forever. In fact, in the Downton Abbey timeline, this kiss came four years after their first meeting, as Rolling Stone revealed.
The moment itself was definitely worth waiting for. Throughout Season 1, Bates had revealed to Anna that he was married but separated and, therefore, unavailable. However, in the Season 2 premiere, his wife turns up. As he tells Anna, “I think it means I’m able to get a divorce.” He tells Anna that Lord Grantham had promised them a cottage. The couple finally kiss, thinking that all of their troubles were over — of course, things get a lot worse for Anna and Bates before they get better. As actor Brendan Coyle said in an interview, “Everything is rosy in the garden for Bates and Anna until the arrival of his first wife.” But this first kiss was definitely a huge moment for fans.
Sybil and Branson have their first kiss in the garage: Downton Abbey Season 2, Episode 7
Sybil and Branson are a Downton Abbey couple that seemed to take forever to lock lips. Of course, their love story wasn’t exactly an easy one. Branson came to the house as the chauffeur, and Sybil, the youngest Grantham daughter, wasn’t exactly in his social sphere.
However, the pair bond over politics and late-night chats in the garage, so when Sybil finally agrees to run away with Branson and they kiss in the Season 2 finale, everyone was over the moon — even the actors! As Allan Leech explained in the “Behind the Drama” special feature, “It is very slow-burning and the whole way through I was constantly reading the scripts going, ‘When are they gonna kiss, are they ever gonna kiss?'” He added, “I think Branson’s very patient. I wonder how many other people would wait for that long.” Jessica Brown-Findlay chimed in, “You get that sense that every single time she goes back to the garage, people would be like, ‘If you don’t kiss now, I’m going to just throw something at the TV.”
Sounds like the wait was almost as painful for the actors as it was for the viewers!
Mary and Matthew kiss while dancing to the gramophone: Downton Abbey Season 2, Episode 8
Even though Mary and Matthew almost get engaged at the end of Downton Abbey Season 1, Mary’s racy past gets in the way. Throughout Season 2, Matthew is engaged to Lavinia. However, it’s clear that he and Mary still have unshakeable feelings for each other. Things finally come to a head in the eighth episode of Season 2: When Lavinia is upstairs in bed with the Spanish flu, Mary and Matthew share a private dance and a wistful conversation. As the music swells and the camera spins around the pair, they engage in a passionate kiss.
In his interview in “Behind the Drama,” Dan Stevens spoke about the stolen kiss. “As much as he loves Lavinia, as beautiful as she is and as wonderful as she’s been to him,” he said, “there’s a sort of a fire that he can’t quite put out.” He laughingly added, “He’s a terribly romantically confused man.” Even though the kiss isn’t particularly fair for poor Lavinia, most viewers were ecstatic that it had finally happened. As Digital Spy put it, “We get the moment we’ve all been waiting for.”
Mary and Matthew get engaged and kiss in the snow: Downton Abbey Season 2, Episode 9
After what felt like years, Mary and Matthew finally get engaged in the Downton Abbey Season 2 finale. After Matthew’s guilt about Lavinia and his initial hesitancy regarding Mary’s sexual history, it seemed like the pair would never get together. As Mary said, “You know yourself we carry more luggage than the porters at King’s Cross.” However, they put everything behind them with a fairytale snowy proposal. As the Daily Mail put it at the time, “Millions of viewers roared their delight as the greatest ‘will they, won’t they’ plotline since the pandas arrived at Edinburgh Zoo reached its natural conclusion.”
The super romantic, well-earned kiss in the snow became an iconic moment in Downton Abbey history. As one viewer wrote for Slate, the episode was her all-time favorite: “The snowy kiss that capped it off was everything I’d hoped for.”
Anna and Bates kiss after he's released from prison: Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 6
After the arrival of Mr. Bates’ wife, Vera, in Downton Abbey Season 3, he and Anna thought things were going their way. However, things took a sad turn when Vera forces Bates to leave Downton with her. Things get even worse when Vera kills herself, framing Bates for murder in the process. For the better part of Season 3, Bates is stuck in prison, with Anna, his new wife, left behind to search for clues to prove his innocence. While it was one of the more dramatic and far-fetched Downton plot lines, it all paid off when Bates was finally released. Watching him and Anna reunite and share that much-awaited kiss outside the prison was everything fans had been waiting for.
This kiss symbolized a happy ending for a very long plotline. As one reviewer wrote for Entertainment Weekly, “This never-ending saga is actually over.” Finally, Bates and Anna are free to begin a happy little life together in their new cottage.
Edith and Gregson kiss before he leaves for Germany: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 1
Edith, the middle Grantham daughter, had a pretty tough run throughout Downton Abbey. After a series of romantic disappointments, in Season 4, she finally finds true love in Michael Gregson, a London editor. The only catch? He has an estranged wife. Nevertheless, Edith falls in love and pursues a relationship with him. In one scene, she meets him for a private dinner and is bold enough to ask, “Can I kiss you?” The kiss that follows is our first glimpse of Edith finally finding some happiness.
As Laura Carmichael, who played Edith, explained in a special feature, “It’s a real moment where she embraces that side of herself.” And in an interview with the Daily Mail, Carmichael said, “I’m enjoying letting my sexual side come out a little bit [in] this series. It’s really fun and I feel like it’s a natural progression of this story.”
Lady Rose and Mr. Thawley steal a kiss outside: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 2
Lady Rose’s arrival to Downton Abbey symbolized the arrival of the 1920s flappers. She is wild, young, and loves a good party. In the second episode of Season 4, she dances with a young gardener, Sam Thawley, at a party where she pretends to be a maid at Downton. When he arrives at the servant’s entrance to see her, she gets into costume and kisses him in the courtyard. While this kiss isn’t one that viewers were desperate to see, it was a fun moment of freedom and scandal that would be hard not to enjoy.
As the Daily Mail noted at the time, the moment was potentially inspired by the 1928 novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which features a scandalous relationship between an upper-class woman and her husband’s gardener. Even though the relationship never amounts to anything, it was super fun to see Rose have a little excitement and resist her family’s old-fashioned rules.
Rose and Atticus kiss after his proposal: Downton Abbey Season 5, Episode 7
Of course, the gardener, Sam Thawley, doesn’t become a serious partner for Lady Rose in Downton Abbey. She ends up meeting someone a little more suitable. The charming and kind Atticus Aldridge appears for the first time in the fifth episode of Season 5. By the seventh episode, he and Rose are head over heels for each other. After meeting her parents at dinner, he takes Rose aside to a private corner where he proposes and they kiss before the others appear and they spring apart.
While some viewers might have felt that the Rose and Atticus relationship moved too quickly, Matt Barber, who played Atticus, explained to Hypable that he thought it worked for the characters. Plus, the engagement is actually the first time they felt able to kiss as characters. He said, “And the first time that they kiss, actually the only time you see them kiss, is after they get engaged… There was no hand-holding, you couldn’t get time alone with each other. If a guy and a girl are alone together it’s pretty scandalous, unless they get engaged!” No wonder he popped the question so quickly!
Carson and Mrs. Hughes finally kiss after getting engaged: Downton Abbey Season 6, Episode 1
Even though Carson and Mrs. Hughes are one of the older couples on Downton Abbey, their love story is surprisingly steamy. After five long seasons, the butler and the housekeeper finally get engaged in the first episode of Season 6. However, Mrs. Hughes is a bit hesitant at first. In a touching scene, Carson tells her, “I have never been so sure of anything.” She replies, “Well then, Mr. Carson, if you want me, you can have me, to quote Oliver Cromwell, warts and all.” The pair then share a kiss.
As actor Jim Carter told Heat World, the kiss was a big deal for these characters. “I’m sure [the kiss] rocked her world,” he joked. “We got together like two old tortoises, crawling down the beach over six years. That kiss was a nice moment and since the kiss, Phyllis has never been quite the same woman.” Phyllis Logan added that they had been surprised to find a kiss in the script. “We thought there might be more of a preparation towards it but suddenly it was, ‘Okay, right, off you go!’ It paid off in the end, I think.” It certainly did!
Bertie and Edith kiss for the first time in her flat: Downton Abbey Season 6, Episode 5
Although Edith finds love with Michael Gregson in Downton Abbey Season 4, when he disappears in Germany her love life begins to look bleak once again. Then, in Season 6, her knight in shining armor finally appears: Bertie Pelham. When Edith heads to her London flat to see him, she realizes that they might just be the perfect match. When she asks him how he knew to pick her favorite restaurant, he replies, “I knew we’d love the same things,” before kissing her. He then exclaims, “God, what a relief. I thought I might be pushing my luck.” It’s clear that Bertie is head over heels for Edith — a welcome change for her after all of her bad luck!
While InStyle joked that it was Edith’s stunning red and gold outfit that inspired Bertie to make this bold first move, in reality, they really are a perfect pair. As actress Laura Carmichael told Vulture, “[Bertie] doesn’t draw attention to himself and is modest. He’s smart and he’s kind and he’s interesting. As Edith discovered more about herself, I think those are the fundamentals for her.”
Henry and Mary experience their first kiss in the alleyway: Downton Abbey Season 6, Episode 6
After Matthew’s untimely death in Season 3 of Downton Abbey, Mary goes through a particularly hard time. For a while, it looked like she’d never find love again. However, in Season 6, the right man finally comes along. Henry Talbot, as other characters on the show were keen to point out, was the perfect match for Mary. In episode six, Henry confesses his love for Mary, and the pair share a passionate, spontaneous kiss in the rain. It’s nice to see Mary swept away once again!
This kiss certainly felt like it was a long time coming. “It took a thunderclap, an epic downpour and a convenient covered alleyway but Downton‘s second-longest romantic tease has at last borne fruit,” The Telegraph wrote at the time. Of course, the romantic bliss doesn’t last long. As soon as Henry mentions the possibility of marriage, Mary backs off, leading to another agonizing will-they-won’t-they saga.
Lucy and Branson's kiss in the Downton Abbey movie was epic
After Lady Sybil’s tragic and sudden death in Season 3 of Downton Abbey, Tom Branson steers clear of any romantic entanglements — aside from a brief affair with a maid and a slightly longer one with a local school teacher. However, in the Downton Abbey movie, Branson finally gets another chance at love. He falls for Lucy, a maid who visits the house. The pair share one kiss after Lucy tells Tom, “I have such a feeling you can understand what’s going on inside my head when no one else does, or ever could.”
As the show’s creator, Julian Fellowes, explained to ET, “I realized, when I was reviewing series six, that Tom Branson was the only one that wasn’t neatly tied up and that gave me the opportunity to have a love story in our film with one of our long-running and favorite characters.” As Fellowes went on to explain, they were perfectly matched as Lucy also had experience with straddling the class system.
Thomas and Richard's kiss in the Downton Abbey movie was memorable
Thomas begins Downton Abbey as a conniving footman who constantly throws others under the bus to get his way. However, over the years, he softens and becomes one of the show’s most likeable characters. As a gay man, Thomas struggles to find anything that even resembles a relationship. In fact, he often finds himself in uncomfortable situations with other men. So, when Thomas finally got a romance plotline in the Downton Abbey movie, it was a relief.
Thomas and Richard, a visiting servant, develop a connection over the course of the movie. When Richard is about to leave, he gives Thomas a quick kiss to say goodbye and gives him a locket saying, “So you can think of me till we meet again.”
As Julian Fellowes told ET, this was a special moment for Thomas. “He was at last given a moment of romance, which after six years he’s kind of earned, even then, it didn’t mean being gay in 1927 was easy,” he said. Fellowes admitted that the pair might never meet again. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to see Thomas getting just a little happiness. Don’t we all deserve it?
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