Lady Edith’s disappearance at the end of Sunday’s Downton Abbey left her family in shock. But they don’t know the half of it – she’s taken her secret illegitimate daughter Marigold with her, determined to start a new life in London!

Laura Carmichael, who plays the tormented aristocrat, explained why Edith has been unable to turn to her wealthy family with her secret pain: “It would be disastrous if the county discovered Lady Edith had a child out of wedlock.

“Downton relies on the family behaving like pillars of the community. They have to behave a certain way. Scandal is out of the question!”

However, we can reveal that Edith’s mother Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) does finally discover her daughter’s secret in the next episode.

Mrs Drewe, the local farmer’s wife pays Cora a visit and explains she and her husband Mr Drewe have been caring for Marigold, but now Edith’s run off with the girl. Once Cora gets over her shock she becomes determined to find her missing daughter and granddaughter. Cora tracks Edith down to the London publishing company she inherited from Marigold’s dead father Michael Gregson…

At first Edith flat-out refuses to go home – until cunning Cora reveals she’s cooked up a risky plan that could see both Edith and Marigold living at Downton Abbey, while keeping Marigold’s heritage a secret.

“Edith’s in a far more vulnerable place than she’s been in before. But it’s in these moments, where Edith picks herself up and gets on with things, that she’s led into a fascinating, different direction.”

Watch Downton Abbey on Sunday, November 2 on ITV at 9pm to see what the future holds for Edith and Marigold.