A HOUSE DIVIDED was the second episode of the Third season of the 1970's period drama, Upstairs, Downstairs. It was written by the late Rosemary Ann Sisson and directed by Christopher Hodson.
As word is coming in about the sinking of the RMS Titanic, hope is dimming that Lady Marjorie and Miss Roberts will be found alive. Then the next day, word is sent from the White Star line which confirms that Lady Marjorie and Miss Roberts are presumed drowned.
Richard is out of the house to go to dine with Marjorie's Aunt Kate, to break the news of her niece's death. Hudson is annoyed that Bellamy's secretary, Hazel Forrest, did not tell him right away, but that was because she herself had not known about it.
Kate Bridges, the Bellamy family cook, is upset because she had made Richard's favorite meal, to get him to eat, but now it had gone to waste.
Still shaken with his wife's death, Richard throws himself into his work in the House of Commons, and in also preparing for her funeral. Although her mother wants the funeral at Westminster Abbey, he felt that she would prefer her own Parish Church.
During a meeting with Sir Geoffrey Dillon, the family's long-time solicitor, he tells him that although he is not sure about continuing in politics, at least, now, he can be freer with his own opinions and can more or less vote his own beliefs and his conscience without being constrained by the Southwold patronage that had always tripped him up.
Meanwhile, Hazel is trying to tell her parents, with whom she lives with, about what she does at the Bellamy house. A situation that they do not approve of.
Meanwhile, downstairs, the senior servants (most notably, Rose, Angus Hudson and Kate Bridges, who had all come to Eaton Place from Lady Marjorie's family estate, Southwold) reminisce about the first time they had ever met her or their most treasured memories of Lady Marjorie.
Rose remembers seeing her for the first time when Rose's father opened the gate as she was leaving. Lady Marjorie greeted her, "You must be little Rose."
Hudson recalled his first meeting of Marjorie as a young footman, just new from Scotland. He gave aid to Marjorie as her dress was dirty and her mother was expecting company. He helped her get up the backstairs. She greeted him, "You must be the new footman." He replied, "Aye, that I am," although he should have answered, "Yes, Milady." She smiled at him and reassured him, "I hope you are not too homesick for Scotland."
Mrs. Bridges remembers the day that she, Hudson and Rose were assembled in the Eaton Place residence after the Bellamys were married.
During the reminiscence, someone is heard knocking on the door, and when Mrs. Bridges has Ruby and Edward to go check who is there, Ruby lets out a scream and the staff is astonished to see that Miss Roberts has SURVIVED the sinking! She had been on the Carpathia, and had been in a hospital in New York. When she was well enough, she insisted that she be returned to England.
James and Richard discuss his voting for Irish Home Rule, which the former had felt should not have happen (Richard would go against the Party line and voted in favor of Irish Home Rule, which showed his tendency to be more liberal than the rest of his Tory fellows).
Richard explained that he had followed his own heart and his own conscience, and that Marjorie would have understood. James would later realize that his father was right.
Meanwhile, Miss Roberts shares with the downstairs staff about what had happened with the ship sinking. She has in her possession Lady Marjorie's jewelry case, which she had been told to keep an eye on.
Sir Geoffrey Dillon dangles a prospect of a chairmanship on the board of a Tobacco company that was owned by the Southwolds, and Richard comes very close to taking it, due to his financial straits, but he refused it, because he still insisted that he be allowed to make his own decisions and not to be constrained by voting with the Conservative Party all the time.
Meanwhile, a row was going on in Lady Marjorie's boudoir where Miss Roberts is still refusing to turn over the jewelry case. It was needed to be turned over, in order to settle the estate of Lady Marjorie, but Miss Roberts would not let it go. It takes Hazel to convince Miss Roberts to open the case to check on the jewelry.
Doing this makes her realize that Lady Marjorie is indeed dead, and Miss Roberts breaks down in Hazel's arms and sobs. It was later revealed that Miss Roberts is taken to a sanitarium after she has suffered a nervous breakdown.
Up until that time, the staff had no liking for Hazel, because they saw her as an interloper and doing things that should not have been a part of her job.
This also was an issue for Hazel's parents, who felt that she was not suited to be doing such work for a powerful family like the Bellamys.
At the end, though, Hudson and Rose bring her coffee in the Study, and she is, somewhat accepted by everyone.