Downton Abbey: 10 Saddest Things About Cora Crawley

Downton Abbey: 10 Saddest Things About Cora Crawley

The aristocratic Crawley family recently returned to the big screen in Downton Abbey: A New Era, continuing the story that had audiences hooked for so long. The much-loved characters came back to lead the narrative, including Cora Crawley, or the Countess of Grantham. Throughout the series, Cora was a woman of many parts. From handling her duties as the lady of the house to readily adapting to the changing times and becoming the president of the local hospital, Cora was intelligent, dignified, and reasonable.

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Actress Elizabeth McGovern did an excellent job playing this American heiress who married into a British aristocratic family and carved a niche for herself. However, Countess or not, Cora had had her heart broken and there were many unfortunate things that befell this beloved character.

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She Lost Her Youngest Daughter

As one of the most shocking deaths in Downton Abbey, Cora was deeply affected by the loss of Sybil and she even blamed Robert, somewhat justifiably, for not taking steps to hospitalize Sybil at the right time.

Cora deeply loves her family, remaining close to all of them. To see her beloved youngest child die right in front of her is the worst thing a mother could experience.

She Had Her Entire Inheritance Written Away As Dowry

Cora Crawley smiling while holding a fan in Downton Abbey

Cora belonged to a wealthy American family and she had her inheritance signed away as a dowry when she married Robert. Cora’s fortune got tied to the Grantham estate and entailed away from the Crawley daughters, who could not inherit the money or the estate, being women.

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This was most unfortunate since neither Cora nor her daughters were legally entitled to what was rightfully theirs.

She Was Married For Financial Reasons

Cora Crawley and Robert dancing in Downton Abbey

Cora and Robert made a superb couple, dignified and reasonable for the most part. But at the time of their wedding, Cora was pursued by Robert for the vast wealth she came from.

Had Robert not married rich, the estate would have been lost much earlier. So although the two ended up being happy, the motive behind their marriage wasn’t completely noble, although common for the time.

She Had A Miscarriage

Robert and Cora Crawley hugging each other in Downton Abbey

Cora became pregnant as she approached menopause, much to the surprise of the entire Crawley family. But happiness soon turned bitter as she suffered a miscarriage while getting out of the bath.

The obnoxious lady’s maid, Sarah O’Brien, had intentionally left a piece of soap under the bathtub for her ladyship to slip on, and slip she did, causing her to lose the baby. What was worse was that it was a boy, which would have solved all the Crawleys’ problems with regards to their finances and the estate.

Her Husband Almost Had An Affair Unknown To Her

Robert and Jane Downton Abbey

Robert Crawley loved his wife but a thorough gentleman though he was, he had his moments of indiscretion. In one of the biggest scandals on Downton Abbey, Robert almost ended up cheating on Cora with the housemaid Jane, although he did seem to regret letting his feelings run away with him later.

The whole thing happened behind Cora’s back which was heartbreaking indeed. Cora was never shown to have found out about the almost-affair, though given how sharp she was, she might have had an inkling.

Robert Didn’t Appreciate Her Taking The Lead At The Hospital

Robert and Cora Crawley looking at the camera in Downton Abbey

Robert might have been a loving husband, but nearly cheating on his wife with the maid wasn’t the only questionable life choice in Downton Abbey that he made. One of the biggest flaws of his character was not being able to move with the times and adapt to changes.

He didn’t appreciate Cora taking a leading role in the local hospital and the transition it was going through. Cora had been voted the hospital’s new president, a duty she enjoyed, but it took Robert a long time to warm up to her proactive role.

She Almost Died Of The Spanish Flu

Cora Crawley unwell in bed in Downton Abbey

Cora Crawley almost died from the Spanish Flu, which was a worldwide pandemic that lasted roughly from 1918 to 1920. It was seen hitting Downton, taking down with it members from both the upstairs and downstairs of the house.

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Cora was one of the worst affected, coming back from the brink of death and causing major anxiety within the household. Her condition improved dramatically overnight, although she needed time to recuperate. The others afflicted by the illness were Carson, who had a mild attack, and Matthew’s fiancé, Lavinia, who died tragically.

She Was On The Verge Of Losing Downton Abbey

Cora Crawley smiling in Downton Abbey

The Countess of Grantham, along with her husband, was on the verge of losing the entire estate over which they held their sway, not just because she had no son, but also because her husband had made some very unsound investments, causing the estate to go virtually bankrupt.

Cora ran the risk of losing Downton and moving into a smaller home, which would have been a huge step down for a woman of her stature in early 20th century England.

She Didn’t Get Enough Credit For Keeping The Family Together

Downton Abbey A New Era Cora Elizabeth McGovern

Speaking of indiscretions, Cora didn’t get nearly enough credit for being one of the only people, perhaps besides Tom, to keep their head at all times and keep the family together. There may have been questionable parenting choices in Downton Abbey, but there was no doubt in Cora’s dedication to her family.

Whether in the face of impending scandals, possible bankruptcy, or even death and heartbreak, Cora held her own and took care of Robert and the family. However, unfortunately, she never seemed to get enough credit or appreciation for performing her duties so perfectly.

She Had To Cover Up Numerous Potential Scandals For Her Daughters

Cora and Anna with Kemal Pamuk's body

Cora’s daughters, unfortunately, were neither as cool-tempered nor as reasonable as Cora herself. Although Mary is shown to be manipulative and scheming, she still landed herself in a mess with the handsome Turkish attaché, Kemal Pamuk, who died on her bed.

Edith too, had a child out of wedlock, which would have inevitably led to a scandal. It was Cora who had to clean up after her daughters, helping to cover up potential scandals with her quick thinking. One cannot help but feel sorry for this strong woman whose family was the epitome of indiscretions.

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About The Author

Surangama Guha
(368 Articles Published)

Surangama, or Sue, as she is called by many, has been writing on films, television, literature, social issues for over a decade now. A postgraduate from London’s Goldsmiths University with a Distinction in Media and Communications, Sue has published articles on cinema in some of the leading newspapers in India and has been editor of a prime Indian online news medium for over a year. She has also been published in prestigious academic journals and has had her short stories published both online and otherwise. A teacher, writer, and editor, she is game for mushy romances as well as serious content and hopes to approach them constructively.

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