‘Downton Abbey’ Star Phyllis Logan Says This Is the Moment Mrs. Hughes Warmed Up To the Crawleys

Downton Abbey spanned nearly two decades from before World War I to 1927 when Queen Mary and King George V visited the castle. When the series began, Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) just saw the Crawleys as people to work for. By the end, she’d become quite fond of the family.

[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Downton Abbey.]

Mrs. Hughes in Downton Abbey
L to R: Jim Carter, Raquel Cassidy, Kevin Doyle, Phyllis Logan and Brendan Coyle | Jaap Buitendijk/Focus Features, LLC

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Downton Abbey fans can now watch the entire series and the movie streaming on Peacock. Logan spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone and discussed when exactly Mrs. Hughes warmed up to the Crawleys.

Mrs. Hughes was more political when ‘Downton Abbey’ began

Logan points out that Mrs. Hughes would come from a political persuasion that might be at odds with the aristocracy. She would keep it to herself at work, though.

Downton Abbey: Phyllis Logan and Jim Carter
Jim Carter and Phyllis Logan | Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television

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“I think as she’s grown a bit older, she’s become less of a militant,” Logan said. “I think being Scottish, she’s probably more of a republican in the true sense than the rest of the downstairs household, certainly Mr. Carson. But I think she has mellowed a bit toward the family because she’s seen that by and large they have a pretty nice life.”

‘Downton Abbey’ shows that rich people can be nice too

Downton Abbey was accurate in its portrayal of the separation between upstairs family and downstairs staff. However, Logan noted that another kind of historical story could have dealt with the abuses in such an arrangement. That wasn’t the case with the Crawleys.

Downton Abbey: Phyllis Logan and Lesley Nicol
L-R: Phyllis Logan and Lesley Nicol | Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television

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“That wasn’t always the case in those days,” Logan said. “You could work wtih households and they’d treat you absolutely horrible and you might be subjected to all sorts from the head of the household. So the Crawleys are very benign employers so I think Mrs. Hughes realizes what side her bread is buttered on. That’s not to say she still hasn’t got a socialist leaning towards society.”

The moment the Crawleys made Mrs. Hughes feel like family

In season 3 of Downton Abbey, Mrs. Hughes discovers a lump in her breast. Fortunately, it proves to be benign and she lives to star in the movie. However, it was a scene she did with Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) that changed the dynamic between Hughes and all the Crawleys.

“There was a very nice scene I did with Elizabeth McGovern, Lady Cora, when I had had a bit of a cancer scare but it was all benign,” Logan said. “Lady Cora had said to me, ‘We’ll look after you if anything happens or occurs.’ So Mrs. Hughes was very touched by that.”

Downton Abbey cast
L – R: Phyllis Logan, Jim Carter, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, Robert James-Collier and Michael C. Fox | Jaap Buitendijk/Focus Features, LLC

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Cora says that even if Hughes is too sick to work, she can stay in Downton for the duration of her recovery.

“It made her realize that they were more of a family to her because she doesn’t have any family of her own as such,” Logan said. “No relatives so it made her feel that she was part of a true family. Maybe that sort of loosened it up a little bit, loosened her corset a little to welcoming the Crawleys.