The second episode of ITV’s Belgravia – full of all the gentle drama and corset-heaving scandal we’ve come to love from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes – seems to be exactly what we need right now.
“Comfort viewing. Downton meets Jane Austen meets Poldark. Hope they’ve made 86 episodes to see us through these months,” tweeted one fan, in a post which has been liked well over 250 times.
Sadly, we can’t promise 86 episodes. We can, though, second this opinion that the show is the televisual equivalent of chicken soup for the soul.
Of course, episode two did leave us with a number of unanswered questions. Here, Stylist’s Kayleigh Dray does her best to unravel them all.
Can I have a plot recap for episode two of ITV’s Belgravia?
Of course you can! In a nutshell, Anne Trenchard (Tamsin Greig) tells Caroline (Harriet Walker) a secret. And a surprise guest at a lavish party forces James (Phillip Glenister) to reveal a truth. A truth which, devastatingly, threatens to tear the Trenchards apart.
But what actually happens in episode two of ITV’s Belgravia?
“Dear Lady Brockenhurst…”
The episode opens with the slowest reading aloud of a letter, ever. So much so that we can only assume Anne Trenchard (Tamsin Greig) is reading it as she writes it in real-time.
However, once this is done, the drama kicks off extraordinarily quickly. Anne informs the aforementioned Lady Brockenhurst (Harriet Walker) that her daughter, Sophia, gave birth to a son before her untimely death. The father? Well, Lady B’s late son, Lord Belassis, of course.
For a moment, all seems well. But, when Lady B presses Anne not to think too poorly of her wayward daughter, Mrs Trenchard can’t help but defend Sophia’s honour.
“She believed she was married,” she says. “He tricked her, he bamboozled her, he persuaded a fellow officer to pretend to be a clergyman, And Sophia didn’t find out until it was too late.”
Lady B isn’t here for this version of events. In fact, she point-blank refuses to believe it, labelling Sophia a “slut” and demanding Anne leave. However, she does promise not to reveal the Trenchard family’s shame, insisting she isn’t going to publicise her dead son’s degradation. (Don’t you just love the way these people talk?)
Later, we learn Anne is still ever so angry at James for persuading their daughter into a false marriage, even all these years later.
In a bid to distract his wife from her rant, the wily magician presents her with with tickets to Kew Gardens. And, somewhat mystifyingly, his tactic works… albeit temporarily.
So, what happens at Kew Gardens?
Whilst wandering around Kew, Anne bumps into Lady B. The pair exchange a few frosty pleasantries, before Caroline starts pressing Anne for more details about their (ahem) mutual acquaintance, Charles Pope. Primarily, where does he live and how can she find him?
Anne doesn’t take much persuasion, and spills the details. And, in the quickest of scene changes, we’re plunged straight into Caroline’s first meeting with her estranged grandson.
“How on earth did I come to your attention?” asks Charles (Jack Bardoe), clearly baffled at Her Ladyship’s presence. He is, after all, just the son of a Surrey vicar. No one special.
Lady B makes up some threadbare story about wanting to invest in a mill in Manchester, before inviting her grandbaby to a swanky party she’s hosting later in the week. And, still none the wiser as to their familial connection, Charles accepts.
Elsewhere, Anne attempts to dissuade her husband from attending the very same party. James, however, hasn’t the faintest inkling that Caroline knows about Charles, and assumes the invite is proof of their rising social status. He wants to go. And so does Susan (Alice Eve), the Trenchard’s spoilt but clever daughter-in-law.
Eventually, it’s decided the entire family will attend the event, much to Anne’s chagrin.
What happens at Lady Brockenhurst’s party?
Well, quite a lot, actually. James reveals that he’s creating the actual Isle of Dogs (nobody is as impressed by this as I am, quite frankly). Susan flirts enthusiastically with every high-status gentleman she encounters. And Anne almost loses her champagne when Charles Pope’s name is announced.
Later, Charles innocently reveals that James is almost entirely responsible for his business success, which is, of course, news to Anne.
“You’ve built and enjoyed a friendship with our grandson which you have denied me most cruelly,” she informs her husband in a furious whisper, under cover of a stringed quartet.
“Isn’t that what Sophia would have wanted?” he replies, similarly angry at his wife’s deception (she knew Charles would be attending the event, he didn’t. Keep up!). It seems this marriage is speeding its way towards a rocky outcrop, and we’re not sure it’s strong enough to survive. Especially as…
Well, especially as Lady B is working hard to break her promise without actually breaking her promise. Eventually, Anne realises that Her Ladyship invited Charles to the event in the hope that everyone gathered would guess he was her grandson. And Caroline invited the Trenchard family because… well, because she’s a shady bitch and wanted them to witness the entire thing.
Where did Belgravia film the fictional Lymington?
We’re all trapped indoors, so is it any wonder we’re salivating over period property porn? And, let’s face it, the fictional Lymington (aka the Earl of Brockenhurst’s ancestral country home in Hampshire) is the ultimate in period property porn.
Various key scenes were shot at Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire, situated south of the town of Potters Bar. As in, yes, the very same location used in the 2004 film adaptation of Vanity Fair. Which was, incidentally, penned by Belgravia creator Julian Fellowes. Go figure.
Who is Lady Maria Grey?
A beautiful and eligible young woman, Lady Maria Grey (Ella Purnell)’s mother has identified the older John Bellasis as a suitable match for her, but she is put-off by his snobbish airs and his dislike of foreign places.
Is it just us, or do Maria and Charles have chemistry?
Well, if you can define ‘bonding over the Indian cotton industry’ as chemistry, then absolutely. The sparks are positively flying. And, later in the evening, Maria can’t help but stare wistfully over at Mr Pope as boring old Bellasis drones on about his hatred of hot countries. She wants to go to India, folks. And we have a feeling she wants to go there with a certain attractive cotton merchant.
Could ancient history be set to repeat itself? Could Charles and Maria be destined to go the same way as Sophia and Lord Belassis?
We really hope not, folks. But, as that’s all we have time for this week, we’ll have to wait and see.
Where and when can I watch the next episode of Belgravia?
Episode three of Belgravia begins on Sunday 29 March at 9pm. We’ll see you there, yeah?
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.