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Romantic Moment of the Week: The Sweet Romance of Cranford’s Matty and Thomas

THE SHOW: Cranford

THE PAIRING: Cranford’s Matty and Thomas

THE EPISODE: Episode 3, “November 1842”

THE ROMANTIC MOMENT: Thomas asks Matty to consider their future.

Cranford's Matty and Thomas; Cranford, Period Romance, Old-Fashioned Romance; BBC
Judi Dench and Michael Gambon as Cranford’s Matty and Thomas.

As much as I love epic and swoon-worthy romantic moments, there is something equally captivating about the sweet, gentler side of a grand romance. Especially when the joyful discovery is a love once lost. With the smallest of gestures, a sweet romance becomes as sigh-inducing as a passionate first kiss. This is why I chose to feature the pure and wholesome romance of Cranford’s Matty and Thomas.

Matty and Thomas were sweethearts in their youth. Unfortunately, Matty’s family did not approve of him. He was a farmer who “drove his own cattle.” However, that alone wasn’t enough for Matty to refuse him. Instead, it was a scandal involving her brother. A terrible hoax, resulting in Peter running away to join the British Navy. Matty’s mother died from heartbreak a year later. Matty’s intent was to convince her parents of Thomas’ worth. But, after the scandal involving Peter, Matty feared her marriage would further destroy her family. So, she refused him; sacrificing her happiness and wounding Thomas in order to protect her family from further heartbreak.

Unexpectedly, during an annual picnic, Matty and Thomas reunite. It’s clear that despite the passage of time, Cranford’s Matty and Thomas still hold each other in very high regard. Their love never faded.

The Lead In – A Visit to the Farm

Now a successful farmer, Thomas invites Matty out to his farm for a day visit. The entire day revolves around Matty. From the room in which they will dine to the hatching of new baby chicks, Thomas caters to Matty’s every whim. When Matty’s companion, Mary Smith comments on how much thought Thomas gave to their visit, he replies instantly, with deep emotion.

“I’ve had 30 years to plan it.”

At the end of the day, Matty packs Thomas’ pipe for him as he reads to her from a book of poems by Tennyson. It is clear that Thomas remains deeply in love with Matty and she with him. It’s in the looks they share and the quiet smiles. There is very much a sense of home between Cranford’s Matty and Thomas.

Romantic Moment – A Posy of Wildflowers

After failing to show the day before, Thomas arrives filled with apologies and a posy of wildflowers. Matty gasps in delight at the cheerful yellow blooms and Thomas cannot help but smile at her joy. As they sit, Matty continues to admire the small bouquet.

Cranford's Matty and Thomas; Cranford, Period Romance, Old-Fashioned Romance; BBC
A very earnest Thomas intent on showing Matty his deep regard.

“You used to be fond of primroses,” Thomas remarks, enjoying her delight.

“I’ve remained so always,” Matty replies, an acknowledgment that he remembers her so well.

Cranford's Matty and Thomas; Cranford, Period Romance, Old-Fashioned Romance; BBC
A quietly joyful Matty gazing at Thomas.

However, Thomas is not there for a simple visit. His purpose is twofold. First, he is leaving on a trip to Paris. Second, he wants Matty to think. To think about them and what they could be together now.

“Miss Matilda, it cannot, I think, be denied that our association has been drawn out over more years than we might have wished. We cannot reverse the clock, only move forward in the way of time itself. And I do not arrange an absence for no reason. I do so hoping that whilst I’m away, you will take pause to consider how our future path might run.”

The dawning awareness on her face. There is joy and disbelief. Still, he sits before her so earnestly and there is no reason to doubt him. She replies simply with an “I see.”

“Haste has never been our hallmark, Miss Matilda. We would be unshaped if we began to move at speed.”

Matty gives a small laugh at that, nodding in agreement. This is them….their pace and meant to be. Not yet done, Thomas presents her with another gift – the book of Mr. Tennyson’s poems. He gives them to Matty simply because she enjoyed them so much at his house.

Cranford's Matty and Thomas; Cranford, Period Romance, Old-Fashioned Romance; BBC
Cranford’s Matty and Thomas are indeed poetry!

“May I call to see you as soon as I return?”

“Yes, Mr. Holbrook. I would like that.”

He moves as if to kiss her and then pauses. Instead, he looks down at her with great affection and perhaps a hint of sadness, knowing he must leave her. Thomas entreats her to take care of herself and then takes his leave. Only this time, he leaves with (and leaves behind!) hope.

Sadly, the story of Matty and Thomas does not have a happy ending, yet I cannot help but feel that these two lived a lifetime in this one moment.

Related Post | Cranford (2007): A Gem of a Period Piece on Community

What did you think of the tender romance between Cranford’s Matty and Thomas? Drop me a line in the comments below!

Photo Credit: BBC

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By on February 24th, 2018

About Catherine

Catherine is an avid reader and a self-declared professional binge watcher. It's not uncommon to find her re-watching a series or movie for the umpteenth time and still be crying into a box of tissues. When she's not hiding in her closet to read or watch a show or movie, Catherine is a wife, mother, and, in her spare time, a lawyer.

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5 thoughts on “Romantic Moment of the Week: The Sweet Romance of Cranford’s Matty and Thomas”

  1. Oh man, Matty and Thomas and their sweet, longsuffering romance is such a heartbreaker, a cautionary tale that just intensifies the longsuffering and thwarted love between the captain’s daughter and her beau…We are so hoping that those two don’t end up thwarted like Matty and Thomas…


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