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Gwen Harding

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Gwen Harding
Gwen Harding
Biographical information
Marital status Married to John Harding
Residence Downton Abbey, Downton (formerly)
Physical information
Gender Female
Height 5'6" (1,68 m)
Hair colour Red
Eye colour Blue
Family information
Family John Harding (husband)
Mrs Harding (mother-in-law)
At least two children[1]
Occupation Housemaid (previously)
Secretary (formerly)
work in government (currently)
Loyalty Downton Abbey (formerly)
Anna May Smith
Lady Sybil Crawley
Mr Bromidge
Behind the scenes
Portrayed by Rose Leslie
Gwen: "Let’s face it. There will never be anyone less suited for the post or worse qualified than I am."
Sybil: "That isn’t true. You’ll see. We’re not giving up. No one hits the bull’s eye with the first arrow."
Episode 1.04
Gwen Harding (née Dawson) was a former housemaid at Downton Abbey and a main character in the first series.



Gwen, who arrived at Downton in 1912[2] is a hard-working maid but nurtures a dream to become a secretary. To this end, she secretly buys a typewriter and takes a correspondence course in typing and shorthand. She is helped considerably by Lady Sybil Branson, who believes in a woman making a life for herself. This friendship crosses the class boundaries, an act which at one time would have seemed impossible. Sybil frequently tells Gwen never to give up on her dream and tries relentlessly to get Gwen a job. She arranges for Gwen to go to town to answer an advertisement that appeared in the newspaper. She even writes her a reference. When nothing pans out, Gwen starts to get despondent, but Sybil tells her to persevere.

Her dream is finally realized when Mr Bromidge, a man whose business installs telephones, comes to Downton. He remarks in Sybil's hearing that he has been looking for a secretary and she tells him she knows an excellent candidate. When Mr. Brombridge returns to install the telephone, he tells Sybil that Gwen's resumé is lacking any work experience. Sybil admits that Gwen is a housemaid at Downton Abbey. He comments that being a housemaid is a mark in her favor, as his mother was a housemaid and he knows how hard they work. Sybil quickly arranges an interview for Gwen in the library.

When news of Gwen getting the job comes by telephone, Tom Branson must take the call as everyone is at the garden party outside. The message is relayed and Tom, Sybil and Gwen all celebrate together. This occurs shortly before Lord Grantham announces that a telegram has informed him that England is at war with Germany.


In 1922, the servants at Downton Abbey received a letter from Gwen announcing she is married. Anna, who had also supported and defended Gwen in pursuing her dreams, organizes to send a card to Gwen, having all of the servants sign it in congratulations. Mrs. Hughes mentions little of the groom other than that his mother was ill, so the wedding had been kept simple.


Eleven years after she left Downton, Gwen shows up unexpectedly with her husband at Downton. She catches up with Anna, whom she had missed a lot. At Downton, the Crawley family initially didn't recognise Gwen, but Mary senses that she is sure they had met before. Thomas, who was now acting butler, was jealous of Gwen's new status of sitting in the upstairs dining room, tells the family that Gwen used to work for them. Gwen 'thanks' Barrow for that. She told everyone about how her life changed when she met Lady Sybil, which leaves the Crawley family all shocked and proud of her rise in class from being a servant to a secretary and marrying a prominent gentleman. Gwen's husband was amazed when he heard that Gwen used to work at Downton. She also spoke fondly of Lady Sybil and told everyone about their time together in which Sybil helped Gwen get a secretarial job. Gwen also states that she and Lady Sybil kept in contact with Christmas cards until Gwen heard the news about Lady Sybil's death. Gwen says that she will never forget Lady Sybil's kindness, of which visibly affects Cora and Mary but especially Tom. She later has a little catch up reunion with her former coworkers.


Gwen seems to get on reasonably well with all the other servants and describes her roommate Anna as being 'like a sister'. She is the daughter of a farm hand. She is a kind and understanding woman. She is slightly sensitive, and occasionally breaks out into tears. She is rather reserved and calm, and tries not to be a part in disputes and arguments.


Appearances and Mentions
Series 1 Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7
Series 4 Episode 1 Episode 2
Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 Episode 8 Christmas Special
Series 6 Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4
Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7
Episode 8 Christmas Special


Her name may be "Gwendolyn" or "Guinevere", both of which can be condensed down to "Gwen".


  1. Anna mentions "children" when she talks to Gwen and asks about them. This means Gwen has at least two children.
  2. In Episode 6.04, it is mentioned several times that Gwen was at Downton for "two years", so was a recent arrival in Episode 1.01

Start a Discussion Discussions about Gwen Harding

  • Gwen's last name

    6 messages
    • Will Gwen and her husband, John, have any children? They've been married for three years; so she could be thinking of getting pregnant.  ...
    • Gwen and John have at least two kids; Anna says "tell us about your children" when Gwen comes down to the kitchen, meaning they have at least two.
  • Update of the main page

    • Please add Gwen on the main page at last. She was a main character and I don't understand, why she doesn't appear at "The Servants (As of Serie...

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