Countess Violet Grantham Quotes

The Queen of Mean dishes it out…

Dowager Countess of Grantham

Dowager Countess of Grantham



Maggie Smith as Countess Violet is the undisputed highlight of each episode of Downton Abbey. Her favourite objects of scorn include unsuitable husbands, Americans, and electricity. Read on for some of the loveable snob’s most scathing zingers…

“What is a weekend?”

“Is this an instrument of communication or torture?”

“Things are different in America, they live in Wig Wams.”

“I was right about my maid. She’s leaving – to get married! How could she be so selfish?”

“First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I’m living in an H.G. Wells novel.”

“Hepworth men don’t go in for loneliness much. I knew his father in the late 60s. Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?” (Where are the snows of yesteryear?)

“Why does everyday involve a fight with an American?”

“Alas, I am beyond impropriety.”

“I will applaud your discretion when you leave.”

“I knew this family was approaching disillusion, I wasn’t aware that illusion was already upon us.”

“Everyone goes down the aisle with half the story hidden.”

“We’ll have to take her abroad, in these moments you can usually find an Italian who’s not too picky.”

“Mary won’t take Matthew Crawley, so we better get her settled before the bloom is quite gone off the rose”

“Give him a date for when Mary’s out of mourning. No one wants to kiss a girl in black.”

Lady Mary: “I was only going to say Sybil that is entitled to her opinions.”
Countess Violet: “No, she isn’t, until she is married. And then her husband will tell her what her opinions are.”



“Twenty four years ago you married Cora against my wishes for her money. Give it away now and what was the point of your peculiar marriage in the first place?”

Cora Crawley: “Are we to be friends then?”
Countess Violet: “We are allies my dear which can be a good deal more effective.”

“I couldn’t have electricity in the house. I couldn’t sleep a wink. All those vapours seeping about.”

“Why do you always have to pretend to be nicer than the rest of us?”

“Edith, you are a Lady, not Toad of Toad Hall.”

“I don’t dislike him, I just don’t like him. Which is quite different.”

“Oh, I should steer clear of May. Marry in May, rue the day.”

“No doubt you will regard this as rather unorthodox, my pushing into a man’s bedroom uninvited.”

“I was watching her the other night, when you spoke of your wedding. She looked like Juliet on awakening in the tomb.”

“Wasn’t there a masked ball in Paris when cholera broke out? Half the guests were dead before they left the ballroom.”

“Don’t be defeatist, dear, it’s very middle class.”

“I do hope I’m interrupting something.”

Cora: “I hope I don’t hear sounds of a disagreement.”
Countess Violet: “Is that what they call discussion in New York?”

“Last night! He looked so well. Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house.”

“Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H.G. Wells novel.”

“I’m a woman, Mary. I can be as contrary as I choose.”

“If she won’t say yes when he might be poor, he won’t want her when he will be rich.”

“It always happens when you give these little people power, it goes to their heads like strong drink.”

Cora: “I might send her over to visit my aunt. She could get to know New York.”
Countess Violet: “Oh, I don’t think things are quite that desperate.”

“One can’t go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We’d all be in a constant state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper.”

Cora: “I hate to go behind Robert’s back.”
Countess Violet: “That is a scruple no successful wife can afford.”

Countess Violet: “Why would you want to go to a real school? You’re not a doctor’s daughter.”
Sybil: “Nobody learns anything from a governess, apart from French and how to curtsy.”
Countess Violet: “What else do you need? Are you thinking of a career in banking?”

Doctor: “Mrs. Crawley tells me she has recommended nitrate of silver and tincture of steel.”
Countess Violet: “Why, is she making a suit of armor?”

Lord Grantham: “We better go in soon or it isn’t fair to Mrs. Padmore.”
Countess Violet: “Oh, is her cooking so precisely timed? You couldn’t tell.”

Countess Violet: “You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal.”
Mrs. Crawley: “I take that as a compliment.”
Countess Violet: “I must’ve said it wrong.”

“I used to think Mary’s beau was a mésalliance but compared to this he’s positively a Hapsburg.”

“She’s so slight a real necklace would flatten her.”

“Sir Richard, life is a game, where the player must appear ridiculous.”

“You see, sometimes we must let the blow fall by degrees. Give him time to find the strength to face it.”

Sir Richard: “I’m leaving in the morning Lady Grantham. I doubt we’ll meet again.”
Countess Violet: “Do you promise?”