Episode 6.01 is the first episode in the sixth series of Downton Abbey. It aired on September 20th, 2015 in the UK. In the US, it aired on January 3rd, 2016. It opens with a fox hunt around late March or April of 1925.
Rita Bevan attempts to blackmail Mary Crawley. Bevan is a former chambermaid at the Grand Hotel where Mary spent the night with Anthony Foyle. She says she has evidence of this indiscretion and will release this to the newspapers unless Mary pays her £1000. Mary refuses, not wanting to give in to blackmail and believing that Rita would only come back for more money. After several confrontations between the two, Rita reveals Mary's secret to her father. Robert Crawley pays Rita £50 on the condition that she signs a confession of attempted blackmail, otherwise he tells her she will get nothing and he will call the police. He tells her that if the truth is ever revealed she will be arrested for blackmail.
Mrs Hughes is reluctant to set a date for her wedding with Mr Carson, as she feels she is not as good looking as she was in her youth and doesn't know whether Mr Carson will want to consummate the marriage or not. She feels unable to talk to him about this herself so asks Mrs Patmore to talk to him for her. Mrs Patmore does so and Mr Carson says that he loves Mrs Hughes and does want a full marriage.
Anna Bates suffers a miscarriage and tells John Bates about this, saying that it has happened previously too. Anna is very upset because she thinks she is unable to have children and that they will be unable to have the large family they have dreamed of.
Robert Crawley wonders whether it is time to further reduce the household staff, in line with the times - with virtually no one running a household with the amount of staff they currently have. He talks to Mr Carson and Violet Crawley about this. Violet confides this news to Gladys Denker who gossips about it to Septimus Spratt and the servants at Downton, wanting them to worry about the safety of their jobs.
Mr Mason is worried about his farm because the estate it is a part of is being sold and he has no way of knowing if he, as a tenant farmer, will be allowed to keep the tenancy of the farm or not. He tells Daisy Mason, who confronts the new owner of the estate and shouts at him for not thinking of Mr Mason and people like him who have worked the land for generations.
Edith Crawley is having trouble with the editor of the magazine left to her by Michael Gregson. She feels he is being difficult because he dislikes working for a woman. Edith is also contemplating what to do with her London flat - left to her by Michael Gregson. She is unsure whether to lease it out, sell it, or live in it herself.
The case of the murder of Mr Green comes to an end, with a woman coming forwards confessing to the murder. This leaves Anna Bates in the clear and upon hearing the good news, Robert, Cora, Mary and Edith go downstairs to the kitchen to share in the good news with the servants, all sharing a glass of champagne together. The family leaves and the servants listen to music and dance in celebration.
- Edith uses the phrase Sic transit gloria mundi as she is about to enter Mallerton Hall. It is a Latin phrase that means Thus passes the glory of the world.
- Analysis of date represented in opening of Series 6.The aproximate date can be deduced from fox hunting season ending at the end of April at the latest, and observing the height of the sun at several known times. When Denker visits the servants' hall, presumably the day after the hunt, the wall clock shows either 5:30 or 6:25. On the first of March the sun sets at approximately 5:42 PM. Assuming the earlier time, when Mr Mason is subsequently called up to the library the view out the window shows that it is considerably before sunset.
Additionally, on the day of the hunt when Robert discusses staffing with Carson, a clock can be seen showing the time as 7:30. Views out the window in the subsequent scenes with Anna and Mr Bates and a later scene with Mr Carson and Mrs Patmore show that it is still dusk. The sun does not set after 7:00 PM in Thirsk until about April 11.
It should also be noted that summer time (BST) did not go into effect until Sunday April 19 in 1925.Given how high the sun is in the library scene, it is quite likely summer time is in effect, putting the date on or after April 19 and on or before April 30.
- ↑ Downton Abbey final series begins with a strong, funny and touching first instalment at Radio Times By Ellie Walker-Arnott, Thursday 13 August 2015 at 7:54PM.
- ↑ Fox hunting
- ↑ While several references indicate the story picks up six months after the end of series five, fox hunting season typically ends in April or earlier. The outer clothing worn is also more indicative of March or April than June.
- ↑ Sic transit gloria mundi
- ↑ Sunrise and Sunset in Thirsk - March
- ↑ Sunrise and sunset Thirsk - April
- ↑ Time Changes in London over the years