Isobel Crawley is the widow of medical doctor Reginald Crawley, mother of her only son Matthew Crawley, the future mother-in-law of Lady Mary Crawley. She is well-educated, trained as a nurse and later became Chairman at the Downton Cottage Hospital, she comes from a middle-class background and she values in family and education.
Isobel Crawley is the daughter of a doctor, and her brother is also a doctor, her husband Reginald Crawley trained to be as a doctor under her father. She also studied to be a nurse during the Boer War. Isobel and her only son Matthew, who she loves very much and she very proud of him, both lived in Manchester, England where Matthew works as a solicitor, until one day Matthew received a letter informing him that he is Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham heir and title to the estate and wealth. She and Matthew both moving to Downton to start their new lives, where they now live in Crawley House with their new butler Molesley, and their own cook Mrs Bird and their housemaid who move from Manchester with them. Isobel uses her nursing skills and later becomes Chairman at the Downton Cottage Hospital. Isobel embodies a different set of values to those of the Crawleys, and because of it is often in conflict with Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, and Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham.
Isobel takes up a position of authority at Downton when it is turned into a convalescent homes for injured soldiers as co-person in charge alongside with Cora during the war. She and Cora clashes about the daily running and management of Downton's convalescent home, as a result she leaves Downton for France to work with the Red Cross. She later returns when she discovers that Matthew was injured in the war, and she has stayed at Downton ever since, while the war is ending, Matthew recovering from his injury and weeks of his wedding to Miss Lavinia Swire.
Isobel suggests to Violet and Cora that to keep Downton convalescent home open after the war to help the soldiers to rebuild their lives and recover, much to Violet and Cora dismay, who both want life to return to normal as soon as possiable, however Violet manage to convinces Isobel that refuees left displaced and disadvantaged by the war need her help more than Downton. Shortly before Matthew and Lavinia's wedding, Isobel informs them that their wedding can't go head, while Lavinia showed mild symptoms of Spanish flu and she will be feeling unwell for the next couple of weeks. Matthew and Lavinia delay the wedding until everyone recovers from Spanish flu. A few hours later, Isobel and Matthew learned that Lavinia's condition as took for turn for the worse and sadly Lavinia dies of Spanish flu and she attended her funeral.
Isobel attended Christmas and New Year celebrations at Downton with her son, Isobel and the Crawley family show their support for John Bates who was arrested for the murder of his first wife Vera Bates, she alongside the Crawley family and some of the Crawley staff, who truly believe that he was not a murderer. She attended Bates trial and supportive John's second wife Anna Bates, and Downton staff members who were call up to the stand during the trial.
Behind the scenes
Isobel Crawley, is played by actress Penelope Wilton, in Downton Abbey television series.