Edna Braithwaite was a general maid who arrived at Downton Abbey in September 1921 and left soon after, then briefly returned as a lady's maid.


September 1921

Headstrong, ambitious, and determined, Edna sets her sights on recent widower Tom Branson.[1] He, however, is not ready for romance because he is still mourning his wife, Sybil Branson.

Edna immediately starts asking questions and making comments about Tom and Sybil, such as him being handsome and that Lady Sybil could have done better, to which Mrs Hughes immediately tells her to mind her place. Unlike the other servants she does not show any respect in talking with Tom and refuses to stand up when he enters the servant´s hall.  He seems to be taken aback by her behavior, but responds in a polite way to her forwardness. She even skips work to go see him in the Grantham Arms, after hearing that he would be eating lunch there. She makes him feel guilty about having moved up in the world, going so far as to get him to eat downstairs again and suggests that he drive them to the Thirsk Fair, after urging him to come with them.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Hughes is watching her suspicously, especially after Tom begins to feel uneasy about moving upstairs.

She later takes his arm at the Thirsk Fair. At one point Edna enters Tom's room whilst he is changing and impulsively kisses him, after he asks her to leave. She later tells Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson that she had made plans to meet Tom, inappropriately using his first name, when they ask her to do a job that clashes with those plans, asking them if she must do what they asked her to do. After hearing this news, both Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes immediately agree that she has to go. Mrs Hughes does not approve of the way Edna has attempted to pursue Tom and says to Tom that he let Edna make him feel ashamed of his new life. Edna doesn't think she has done anything wrong, insisting she is just as good as he and that there was nothing improper. But Mrs Hughes say that, "there are rules to this way of life and, if you don't intend to abide by them, it is not the life for you." Edna leaves soon after being fired. Tom kindly asks Mrs Hughes to give her a decent reference. She does, though she thinks Edna is not cut out to be a housemaid, having told Tom that "the work would no longer satisfy her. I've seen it before. She'd unsettled the other maids."

April 1922


Edna in Ripon.

Edna returns to Downton Abbey, having honed her skills as a lady's maid.  She responds to an application posted by Rose MacClare for lady's maid for Cora Crawley, Sarah O'Brien having unexpectedly left. She holds her interview in Ripon, claiming she has a sick aunt to think of. She lies about why she left Downton 7 months earlier, claiming it was her own choice to move on. Rose encourages Cora to hire Edna, who presents the reference Mrs Hughes wrote for her.

Tom Branson, Carson, and Elsie Hughes are upset that she is back, remembering her unorthodox behavior towards Tom. Unfortunately Mrs Hughes has no choice but to hire her, since Edna did not leave Downton with a bad reference. She, Carson, and Branson resolve to keep an eye on her. Carson insists it would break Cora's heart if she learned why Edna really left, and suggests that perhaps Edna has moved on from that. Mrs Hughes on the other hand fears Edna's return, in her words, sounds like a ticking bomb.

Tensions rise between her and Anna Bates, which get the latter in trouble: with help from Thomas Barrow she blames Anna for ruining one of Cora's garments, something she herself had done. Cora tells Robert, despite being surprised Anna would make such a mistake. Robert then confronts Anna's husband, insisting she has been unkind to Edna. Aftewards, Edna earns Mr Bates's suspicion, especially after he sees her laughing. She later shows signs of her former distaste for serving aristocrats at the beginning of a house party; when Mrs Hughes tells Edna she might have to serve as lady's maid to other women besides Lady Grantham, Edna replies that she thinks she won't have the time (to which Mrs Hughes tells her to find time).

Even though Tom tried to keep his distance from her at first, Edna approached him on his way to a party at Downton and asks if they can still be friends, to which Tom agrees. He later tells her how uncomfortable he feels in the company of the Crawley's old friends, saying he feels like an idiot. Edna comforts him, causing him to later say he thinks she is the only one who had understood him those two days. Edna then approaches him again when she sees him sitting on his own and gives him a large whiskey, saying that she thinks he needs it. When Tom had gone to bed later that night, Edna sneaks up to his room and went into the room after asking if he was still awake. What really happened next remains unknown, though it is implied she sexually abused him.

Following that night, Edna immediately and relentelessly schemes to get Tom to pledge himself to her, citing the possibility that she might now be pregnant. She tries to make it seem like Tom is the one who was guilty, accusing him of using her then casting her aside, therefore not being a man of honor. She also, to his anger, says that if he was good enough for his late wife then she is good enough for him. But later Thomas Barrow finds her singing and she tells him he should be happy he is in good favor with her.

Mrs Hughes, after hearing about the whole thing from Tom, goes through Edna's things and finds a book on how to avoid getting pregnant. Mrs Hughes then summons Edna to her office, with Tom present. Edna believes Tom and Mrs Hughes are going to try to buy her off, but she insists she will accept nothing they can offer because she wants her child, if she is going to have one, to grow up with a father.

But Mrs Hughes tells her there will be no offer because there is no child. When Edna insists no one can know whether or not she is pregnant, Mrs Hughes asks Tom if he really thinks Edna would have let herself get pregnant before she was sure she could have him. And then she reveals Edna she knew how to prevent it, or why else would she have bought that particular book. Furthermore, she insists, once Edna got what she wanted, namely Tom agreeing to marry her, then she would have made sure she got pregnant. Mrs Hughes admits she does not know whom Edna would have selected as a father, but is certain she had a canidate in mind.

Edna is upset that Mrs Hughes has gone through her things. Furious, she tries to stand her ground, insisting Mrs Hughes could not prove anything by asking her if she had any proof. But Mrs Hughes stands her ground equally, threatening to summon a doctor to examine her if she persits with her lie. Edna says she cannot be forced, to which Mrs Hughes replies she'd lock Edna up and then hold her down and strip her if that is what it took. Finally, Edna says she cannot be stopped from speaking to her ladyship. Mrs Hughes admits that is true, but if Edna wants a reference or another job during her natural lifetime she will remain quiet.

Defeated, Edna leaves right away. Mrs Hughes remarks, "We were mad as hatters to let her back in the house." Edna later runs into Thomas, calling him sly, oily, and smug. Thomas then calls her a "manipulative little witch" and expresses delight if her schemes have come to nothing. She runs off.

The family learns nothing of Edna's reason for leaving, hearing only that it has to do with family reasons.


Edna has considerable charm, which she uses to her advantage. She has proven to be ambitious in wanting to rise above her social station. Even when she rises from housemaid to lady's maid she still shows signs of a distate of serving rather than being served.

She has proven to be manipulative, relentless, and quite sneaky. She resorts to lies, blackmail, and playing upon emotions when seeking to rise above her social station. When she makes others (notably Tom Branson) feel or look bad, she feels no remorse for what she has done to them. She also gets emotional and frustrated when her plans are unravelled.


Appearances and Mentions
Series 3 Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 Episode 8 Christmas Special
Series 4 Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 Episode 8 Christmas Special
Series 5 Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 Episode 8 Christmas Special
Series 6 Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 Episode 8 Christmas Special


  • Actress MyAnna Buring did not think she would be returning after the Series 3 Christmas Special, believing it would not be possible considering why her character left, but was delighted to return when invited.
  • She describes Edna as dreaming of a life above her station, about a life of being waited on rather than watiting on others. She also felt Edna fantasized about Tom in sort of a romantic way in the Christmas Special, but not so in Series 4.


  1., A racy new maid, another shock for Lady Edith and simmering tension between Matthew and Lady Mary. Hold on to your hats as Downton decamps to Scotland By Nicole Lampert, PUBLISHED: 17:31 EST, 21 December 2012 | UPDATED: 17:59 EST, 21 December 2012; excerpt: "New maid Edna takes a shine to Branson but who wouldn't?"



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