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Downton Abbey Wiki

All I'm asking is for you to remember that you were the man who tempted her towards the park wall to run away to freedom. You can be that same man you were.
—to Tom Branson, regarding his past[src]

Sarah Bunting is a schoolteacher at a grammar school in Preston, Lancashire. She formerly lived in the village of in Downton in Yorkshire. She teaches language, spelling, and mathematics.



Tom Branson meets Sarah at a political rally in Ripon. Initially she does not allow him to sit next to her, but eventually she does. While MP John Ward speaks, they discuss their viewpoints. 

Sarah meets Tom again with Isobel Crawley. She remarks she is not convinced by his Socialism (which he mentioned before) because she did not know at the time of the rally he was the agent and son-in-law of "our local milord." Isobel defends Tom as a keen political thinker who is not afraid to question his beliefs. Sarah describes Isobel's words as eloquent and that she would stay to argue but she would be late for work at the school.

Sarah meets Tom again when he finds her on the road with a flat tire. A friend of hers has already gone for help, but Tom decides to help her himself. She is impressed that he is actually out on business, under the impression that when an estate's agent is a relation he gets free shooting while others do the work.

Tom then remarks she knows some of his story but not all of it, revealing that when he first came to Downton it was to be the chauffeur. Her interest in him is sparked more, and she asks him if he was still the chauffeur when he got married. He says it was a long story, and she remarks, "Everything with you is a long story."

Sarah is aware Tom's wife died, and expresses her sympathy for Sybil's passing. She notes that Sybil must have been a very unusual and independent person, to which Tom says, "You can say that again." Sarah thinks it was nice that the family let him stay at Downton and make a life there (which Tom thought was right at the time considering his daughter). She remarks that it gives her a kinder view toward the Crawley family, because as a "rule" of hers, she does not warm up to their type. Tom tells her before she finally leaves he believes in people, not types.

Later she attends a bazaar at Downton, meeting Tom again and his daughter. Beforehand she was there helping set up, remarking to Tom how he was being used as a beast of burden by the family. Then he introduces her to his mother-in-law, who is also busy helping out. Cora is kind to her, and after walking away, Sarah remarks "So that's the great Countess of Grantham." Tom tells her yes, and that Lady Grantham is another beast of burden, countering Sarah's earlier remark.


In 1923, Tom is showing Sarah the upper floors of Downton when they run into Thomas Barrow. Barrow informs Lord Grantham of what he saw, and Lord Grantham asks Tom about her during a poker game.

She meets Violet for the first time, who looks upon her disapprovingly.


Sarah and Tom meet again at an awards ceremony at the Downton school, attended also by Edith Crawley and Rose MacClare. Seeing that Tom appears to be interested in Miss Bunting, Rose plans to invite her to Robert and Cora's wedding anniversary dinner as a surprise for Tom. Sarah is apprehensive about coming, as she is not an aristocrat herself, but Rose manages to get her to come.

Unfortuntely, Sarah speaks rudely to Kitty Colthurst and also to Robert. She disapproves of the war memorial because the war accomplished little. Isobel and Tom come to her defense when Robert becomes really upset with Sarah. She then insists on going downstairs to meet the servants. Tom escorts her, but later after Isobel gives Sarah a lift home Tom apologizes for arguing with Robert.

Robert tells Tom he is worried Sarah will take him backwards into the "role of rebel and hater" after Tom expresses how Sarah's views make him think of how he used to feel. Tom assures her he does not hate anyone in the family, including him, and that he and Sarah were never lovers (referring to when Barrow saw them during the London season).

Sarah begins to assist Daisy with her mathematical studies at Mrs Patmore's suggestion. She also tells Tom that he has a future but not with "these people." She even hints at a bit of admiration for Tom's wife, saying that from what he's told her of Sybil she was, in Sarah's words, unique in the family, "free from prejudice and narrow thinking." Sarah asks Tom to remember that he was the one who encouraged her to run for freedom.

Unfortunately Robert grows ever more displeased with Tom's relationship with Miss Bunting, even going so far as to call her a "harpy." Her constant bickering and inflammatory comments cause Robert to grow extremely tired and angry, to the point where he loses his temper during dinner and tells her to leave and to never come back. Tom later confronts her and tells her sadly that she has made it a case where he has to choose between her and his in-laws.

Sarah accepts a teaching position at a school in Preston, Lancashire and soon leaves, but not before bidding Tom a farewell saying that she loved him and could have loved him more if he had let her. They share a kiss before she leaves.


  • "You needn't always do as the Romans do." - to Tom 
  • "I know she died, I'm so sorry, she must have been a very unusual and independent person." - to Tom about the late Lady Sybil.
  • "You do have a future but not here, not with these people." - to Tom
  • "Have I finished us off before we ever really got started?" - to Tom at her departure
  • "I've loved you you know, could have loved you more if you'd let me." - revealing her feelings to Tom at her departure.
  • "But I wish we'd met before you ever knew them." - to Tom expressing regret that they never met before Tom knew the Crawley family

Behind the scenes[]

  • According to actress Daisy Lewis, Sarah's first love in life is her work.


Appearances and Mentions
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

External Links[]

  1. Don't call me feisty, warns Downton Abbey actress Daisy Lewis at The Telegraph