Elsie Carson (nee Hughes) is a character on the UK-US period drama, Downton Abbey. She is played by actress Phyllis Logan.
The stalwart housekeeper of Downton Abbey
Elsie Hughes (called Mrs. Hughes, a courtesy title for all cooks and housekeepers, regardless of marital status) is the head housekeeper of Downton Abbey, a country house and estate in the Yorkshire region of England.
She joined the staff as a housemaid (having worked at Duneagle castle, the home of Lord and Lady Flintshire, and them moving to Downton Abbey), and progressed upwards in the ranks until she became the head housekeeper. She is known for her ever present set of keys that she wears on her belt at all times.
As the second in line in the household hierarchy, underneath the butler, she was in charge of disciplining the female servants (while Charles Carson would discipline the male servants), and she would also make sure that the maids dignity was preserved.
She had only a few friends in service, and was, at first, rather austere and stern, but while she was tough, she was also very compassionate towards those who she knew.
At first, she and the cook, Mrs. Beryl Patmore did not get along at all, because it was Mrs. Hughes, and not Mrs. Patmore who held the keys to the store cupboards.
It was understood that in most households, the cook would have at least one key to the store cupboards, but in this particular household, Mrs. Hughes had the keys, which annoyed Mrs. Patmore. This fight would be resolved when Mrs. Hughes would have a cancer scare. She and Mrs. Patmore would later become good friends.
She respected the family she worked with, although she did not worship the ground they walked on, like her later husband, Mr. Carson, did. This would come out in her opinion of Violet Crawley, whom she called an old bat.
In the final season, after a proper courtship, she and Mr. Carson would become engaged and married. During their reception, they would be surprised and very pleased to see Tom Branson and his daughter, Sybbie return to Downton, where they belonged.