An extravagant house party at the Abbey gives the Crawleys a chance to reconnect with old friends and culminates in a performance by opera singer Dame Nellie Melba (played by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa). Lady Mary’s mood lifts when she meets an old school friend, Lord Gillingham, but sadly he’s engaged…

 

Among the guests are the eligible Sir John Bullock, who soon attracts the attention of Lady Rose; Gregson, who is keen to win Robert’s approval if he is to make a future with Lady Edith; and Mr Sampson, a slightly mysterious acquaintance from Robert’s gentleman’s club.  But some guests prove more welcome than others and along with the celebrations come skulduggery and heartache.  

 

Below stairs, with preparations in full swing tensions run high, and Mrs Patmore begins to feel the strain.

 

Jimmy’s attempts to impress Ivy in front of love rival Alfred don’t go to plan, and hapless Molesley is made an offer of employment he finds hard to refuse.

 

Meanwhile, in the elevated circles above, Branson finds himself a fish out of water, but the consolation he is offered may come at a high price. Rose’s attempts to liven up events inadvertently raise painful memories for Mary, and Gregson uses surprising hidden talents to save Robert from a fix and win his respect.