Give me the longing looks, lingering hands, and polite messiness of a Victorian-era drama and I’m hooked. From the brainchild of Downton Abby mastermind Julian Fellowes, comes his latest offering, Belgravia. Beginning in 1815, right before the Battle of Waterloo, Belgravia focuses its attention on the Trenchard family: upstarts, merchants, very much nouveau riche. The patriarch, James Trenchard, from humble stock, has made a name for himself as a supplier of goods to the British army. In Belgium, the class lines of the British aristocracy were slightly blurred leading up to the battle. For a solidly middle-class family like the Trenchards, an invitation to the Duchess of Richmond’s ball pre-Waterloo was a social coup.
The invitation-courtesy of the Duchess of Richmond’s favorite nephew, Lord Bellasis-was procured through Sophia Trenchard, the secret love of Lord Bellasis. As her mother continually reminds her, one of his stations doesn’t simply marry for love, they marry for rank. And they marry up.
As the ball is in full swing, the news of the impending battle comes through and the company of soldiers makes their way to their stations. Outside, Sophia Trenchard and her mother are hustled into their waiting carriage, but something captures Sophia’s eye and she is in complete disarray as they leave.
It’s not until the news of Lord Bellasis’s death in the Battle of Waterloo that the truth is revealed: Sophia believed herself to be married to Lord Bellasis and is pregnant. The recently departed cad went so far in his seduction to have a friend of his act as a vicar in order to “marry” Sophia. It was a betrayal of the highest order.
And there Sophia and her mother Anne were the former bleeding out from a very hard birth and the latter lamenting the birth of a very healthy and fine baby boy. As Sophia breathes her last, Anne promises to take care of the boy.
Flash forward 25 years…
At a chance run-in given by one of the noble ladies of London, Anne (now a highly respectful businessman’s wife) is introduced to the Countess of Brockenhurst, Caroline…the mother of the late Lord Bellasis. As they commiserate on losing children in their youth, Lady Brockenhurst laments that she and the Earl of Brockenhurst never had other children. Her final statement is “There is nothing left when we are gone.” A statement that haunts Anne Trenchard, as she dreams about a baby boy born of a Trenchard and a Bellasis, a boy now full-grown into a man. Stay tuned.
Binge the first 4 episodes of Belgravia on the Epix app or on-demand. New episodes air Sundays at 6PM.