Why is Neville Chamberlain in this week’s Downton Abbey?

Everything you need to know about the former British Prime Minister...

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He’s the Prime Minister famous for championing the policy of appeasement before WWII, but it’s 1925. The Second World War hasn’t even started yet. And the famous politician is popping by for tea with the Crawleys.

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What on earth is Neville Chamberlain doing at Downton?

Well, Chamberlain wasn’t always Prime Minister. Born in Birmingham during 1869, he had a successful stint as a businessman before being appointed Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1915. Three years later he became a Conservative member of parliament for Ladywood in Birmingham and his political career took off.

So what was he doing in 1925?

He was the Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1923-4 and Minister of Health in 1923, 1924-1929 and 1931. In 1937 he succeeded Stanley Baldwin and became Prime Minister.

And… 

We’re sure you remember your GCSE history as though it was yesterday, but let’s recap this stuff too. Determined to avoid another war in Europe, Chamberlain embarked on a policy of appeasement towards Adolf Hitler. 

The most famous example of his approach to foreign policy was the 1938 Munich Agreement. Negotiated at a conference alongside the continent’s major powers, the agreement was signed by Hitler – and Chamberlain saw it as an all-out success, arriving back in Britain with the infamous assurance that he had secured “peace for our time.” 

However, mere months later Hitler went back on the agreement, and on 3rd September 1939 Chamberlain was forced to declare war. 

Aren’t we getting at bit ahead of ourselves here?

We are indeed. When Chamberlain visits Downton Abbey during Sunday’s episode, he’s Minister of Health.

Ah.

Yeah. No prizes for guessing what he’s there to discuss – or who invited him to take tea there.

It’s that ol’ hospital row. Chamberlain is on an inspection tour of the north of England to see what’s been happening in the aftermath of WWI. And it looks an awful lot like Violet, rapidly running out of allies, has called upon an eminent politician to aid her plight…

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Downton Abbey continues on Sunday at 9:00pm on ITV