Baker Street Wiki
Baker Street Wiki

The Dowager Lady Basilwether is a character in the 2020 film Enola Holmes, portrayed by Frances de la Tour. She is the grandmother of the runaway Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether. A staunchly conservative member of the nobility, she views it as her duty to safeguard traditional English values in a changing world.


The Dowager was the mother of Tewkesbury's late father, who was killed several years prior in an apparent botched robbery. Following his death, the title Marquess of Basilwether and associated property was inherited by her grandson, Viscount Tewkesbury. However, on the eve of assuming his seat in the House of Lords, the young marquess is almost killed by a falling branch, which prompts a personal crisis and leads to him running away from home.

After the young marquess' flight from Basilwether Hall, the Dowager accompanies his mother and uncle to search for him at the train station where he was last seen. She attempts to convince them that the search is pointless. Nevertheless, as the train departs a man named Linthorn, apparently in the family's employ, manages to board the train to search for him.

Enola Holmes, having witnessed Linthorn attempt to kill Tewkesbury on the train, takes it on herself to protect the marquess. She travels to Basilwether Hall to gather more clues. Disguising herself as an assistant to her brother Sherlock, she manages to briefly meeting with the family before being quickly kicked out. However, the Dowager seeks out Enola on the grounds. She finds her at Tewkesbury's hidden treehouse, which the Dowager reveals she herself had discovered several days previously. She walks with Enola, explaining that she views herself as the protector of her corner of England and its traditional way of life. To the contrary, she characterizes her late son and grandson as foolishly fixated on the future. She advises Enola to leave, warning her that if the other family members catch her on the grounds they will have her arrested. Before she goes, the Dowager asks Enola to tell her grandson that she loves him.

Enola eventually concludes that one of Tewkesbury's family is behind the attempt on his life, probably for his wealth or title, and that the culprit likely killed his father as well. Reuniting with the missing marquess, she explains that she suspects his uncle and convinces him to return to Basilwether Hall to lure the culprit out of hiding. At the hall, they are attacked again by Linthorn with a shotgun, but manage to disarm and accidentally kill him. The Dowager appears and grabs the discarded gun. She reveals that Tewkesbury's mother and uncle have gone to London to search for him, and that she was actually behind the assassination attempts all along. She apologetically explains that she cannot allow Tewkesbury to take his seat in Parliament and break the stalemate on the pending Reform Act, which would massively expand the vote. She then shoots him in the chest and attempts to kill Enola as well, only failing due to a lack of ammunition. However, to her shock Tewkesbury survives the blast thanks to a breastplate concealed under his clothes. With his grandmother defeated, Tewkesbury tells her that her time is over.

Not long after, Sherlock Holmes visits Scotland Yard to see Inspector Lestrade regarding the Tewkesbury case. He warns Lestrade that he has deduced that the Dowager is trying to kill the boy, as she killed his father. The Dowager viewed her late son and grandson's progressive worldview as a threat to the country; she plotted to kill them so her younger son could inherit the title of marquess and attendant seat in the House of Lords, where he would be a consistent conservative vote against liberal reforms. To Holmes' surprise and amusement, Lestrade reveals that Enola had already told him as much. The ultimate fate of the Dowager is not revealed.


  • The Dowager's character is a new addition not present in the film's source novel, The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer. She replaces the novel's villain, Cutter, and provides a different dénouement to Tewkesbury's storyline. Likewise, the marquess' father (a duke in the novel) is also alive.
  • The Dowager wears widow's weeds, the traditional black mourning garments of the Victorian period. Etiquette prescribed a mourning period of a full year following the death of a loved one, though after her husband's death Queen Victoria famously wore black for the remainder of her life.
  • Frances de la Tour previously portrayed Madame Schirmer in the 2015 film Mr Holmes.