Horace Bryant wrote to Lady Grantham in 1918, telling her their son had been killed in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. Later she and her husband stopped for luncheon at Downton Abbey en route to Maryport. Mrs Hughes informs former maid Ethel Parks of their coming, as Ethel had an affair with their son, from which she bore his son, Charlie, but the major refused to acknowledge him and Ethel has fallen on hard times.
When the Bryants came, Mrs Hughes attempted to get Mrs Bryant alone to tell her about Ethel and Charlie, thinking if either of the Bryants would want to help them it would be her. When Ethel Parks burst in claiming Major Bryant was the father of her son, Charlie, Mrs Bryant was more receptive of her, whereas Mr. Bryant demanded proof, then demanded she leave at once. Mrs Bryant asked questions about Ethel before she and her husband abruptly left, such as if she was a nurse there (but is informed she was a housemaid).
Mrs Bryant later wrote to Mrs Hughes to arrange a meeting between the Bryants and Ethel. The Bryants had accepted that Charlie was their grandson. When Ethel came, Mrs Bryant asked to be introduced formally to her grandson. She hoped Charlie could call her "Gran" and commented on how she thought from the first moment she saw him that he looked like her son. She also apologized for herself and her husband for their first encounter, but Mr Bryant was more eager to "get down to business" about what he and his wife will do for Charlie. He offered to raise Charlie as his heir since their son had been an only child. He would educate Charlie at Harrow and Oxford. He would tell Charlie that his parents married during the war and his mother died from Spanish flu. Mrs. Bryant commented that many had died from it. Ethel offered to be Charlie's nurse and never tell him that she was his mother. Mrs Bryant was open to the idea, but Mr Bryant rejected it, called Ethel "a drudge", and said that she would not be able to kept her secret. Ethel appealed to Mrs Bryant about her husband wanting to separate her from Charlie, and said she knew Mrs Bryant had a heart. But Mrs. Bryant said nothing more. Mr Bryant offered Ethel time to consider his offer and he and his wife left. Later Ethel told Mrs Hughes she was keeping her son.
Mrs Bryant returned to Downton along with her husband in 1920. At Crawley House he received Ethel once again more kindly than her husband, and hoped to be friends with her and offer her money. Ethel had fallen on hard times, and ultimately decided for the sake of her son's happiness to let the Bryants take him back with them. Mrs Bryant promised to write to Ethel, and assured her that her husband loved Charlie, and not just for the boy's late father's sake.
She later returned to Downton again, to Ethel's surprise, having been written to by Violet Crawley about Ethel's search for a job and that Ethel had found one with a Mrs Watson near Cheadle, close to where the Bryants lived. She and Isobel Crawley, whom Ethel had been working for, both knew that Ethel had hoped it would help her be closer to Charlie, but had declined on fear that the Bryants would find out and would not let her past die down. Violet felt only the Bryants could give their assurance of their response to Ethel working nearby. Mrs Bryant said she had been "uncomfortable about keeping a mother from her son" even though she did not want to confuse him. She told Ethel to write to Mrs Watson and get herself settled, with the assurance that, "You will please leave Mr Bryant to me."
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|Series 2||Episode 1||Episode 2||Episode 3||Episode 4||Episode 5||Episode 6||Episode 7|
|Series 3||Episode 1||Episode 2||Episode 3||Episode 4|
|Episode 5||Episode 6||Episode 7||Episode 8|