Return to Cranford
Synopsis

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New life is charmingly apparent in Cranford as Matty Jenkyns enjoys sharing her home with Tilly, the daughter of her maid Martha and carpenter Jem Hearne. Familiar faces including Miss Pole, Mrs. Forrester and Mrs. Jamieson surround Miss Matty in a loving community.

Some new faces have arrived as well — Mrs. Bell, her daughter Peggy and son Edward. Mr. Buxton and his son William have returned to town after years away. Young William eagerly aspires to be an engineer, while his father is grieving the loss of his wife.

The railway has crept closer to Cranford, but has been halted several miles outside the village. For it to move any further, Lady Ludlow would have to sell part of her land. Captain Brown is determined to make progress for the railway, but meets resistance from the village residents.

An unexpected and alarming shift signals yet more change in store for Cranford. Can Matty and the women of Cranford muster support for what inevitably awaits?

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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers

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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers

A decidedly youthful presence has come to Cranford as a delighted Miss Matty plays with Tilly, her maid Martha's baby. Martha is pregnant with her second child by carpenter Jem Hearne.

Captain Brown and Jem Hearne discuss the railway, which has been forced to halt five miles outside of Cranford. Unless Lady Ludlow agrees to sell part of her land, the railway can go no further. Jem is bitterly disappointed, as he was relying on the arrival of the railway for the extra work.

At the church, some new faces in Cranford are evident: Mrs. Bell, her daughter Peggy and son Edward as well as William Buxton. William, a young man, has returned to Cranford with his father after the death of his mother. They also live with Mr. Buxton's niece Erminia. William aspires to be an engineer, much to his father's disapproval.

Lady Ludlow is seriously ill, and Harry urges Miss Galindo to encourage her son Septimus to return home. She has tried, but has heard nothing. Harry leaves for school on a coach after giving his mother money to pay rent.

Later, a letter from Septimus arrives saying he is on his way. Lady Ludlow waits in the great hall, refusing to surrender to death.

At Miss Matty's house, news of Lady Ludlow's demise arrives as Martha is about to give birth. Meanwhile, Lady Ludlow dies as her son arrives, and Martha's newborn tragically dies. Cranford goes into mourning, and an upcoming magic show featuring "Signor Brunoni" is cancelled.

A few days later, William arrives at the Bell's cottage with a spare horse for Peggy to ride with him into Cranford. On the ride, Peggy canters off, astride the horse, with a surprised and impressed William watching on.

Septimus hears the details of his mother's will and is furious to learn that he has to pay Harry the money that was leant to Lady Ludlow during her lifetime. He persuades Harry that he'll have to sell the estate to pay him, putting good people out of work. Septimus convinces Harry to take a fraction of what he is owed as final payment.

Peter Jenkyns returns from India with a surprising assortment of belongings, including a parrot that he gives to Miss Pole, and a tiger skin rug he offers to Mrs. Forrester. Miss Pole orders a fancy cage for the problematic bird. When it arrives, the cage turns out to be a lady's petticoat.

Mary arrives and cheers Miss Matty with news of her engagement. Peggy comes to visit and Mary gives her some of her old dresses.

Miss Pole sees the windows of Johnsons' store being white-washed and goes in to find out what's going on, but gets no details. When the store reopens, a model railway is revealed, and Captain Brown announces that Septimus has agreed to sell land to the railway so the track can come further into Cranford. Most of the town seems against this development. They cheer when Mr. Buxton steps forward and reveals that he owns the cottages that they'd need to knock down to carry out their plans (the same cottages where Harry's family live). He's against the railway and refuses to sell.

Harry explains his agreement with Septimus to Miss Galindo who is furious, and confronts Septimus, forcing him to admit that he'd agreed to sell the estate before he'd blackmailed Harry into taking less money. Miss Galindo tears up the documents. Harry returns to school, while Septimus leaves Cranford for good.

Jem tells Miss Matty that he and Tilly are also leaving Cranford as there isn't enough work. A devastated Miss Matty keeps a brave face, but questions whether resisting the railroad was the right thing.

She writes a letter to her friends encouraging them to put aside their doubts and take a trip on the railroad. After an anxious wait on the train platform. Miss Matty's friends arrive and are thrilled by the ride. During the ride, William asks Peggy to marry him, and Mr. Buxton declares he will not stand in the railway's way. Miss Matty watches, unsure of what she has set in motion.

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