The Branson family, Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay); Tom (Allen Leech) and baby Sybbie

Downton Abbey Episode 03.05 is the fifth episode of the third season of the Period drama, Downton Abbey. This episode focuses on the birth of little Sybil Branson, II, the first Crawley grandchild (and the only one of the three grandchildren who was born in the Abbey itself), and on the death of her mother, the beloved Lady Sybil Branson, due to Eclampsia.

This episode marked the final appearance of Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil Branson, who would leave the show for new projects. 

She would be one of the first of the core characters to die (Matthew Crawley would be the second during the season finale), and their respective places would be taken by Lady Rose MacClare and Sybil's husband, Tom.  


The episode opens where Dr. Clarkson (David Robb), the head of the Cottage Hospital, has just checked over Sybil, as she is in the very last stages of pregnancy. She comes through the check-up fine.

Meanwhile, in the Servants Hall, lady's maid, Sarah O'Brien is playing Thomas Barrow, the current valet of the Earl (his regular valet is in prison for a murder he didn't commit) and Jimmy Kent, the recently hired footman, off on each other by sending them conflicting messages.

This was part of her plan to make Thomas pay for troubling her nephew, Alfred Nugent and also partially out of spite because she and Thomas were now arch-enemies. Thomas would continually touch Jimmy, which would make him quite uncomfortable. As it turns out, Thomas is shown to have a one-sided crush on the new Footman.

Daisy Mason, the assistant cook, has her own issues, with Ivy Stuart, the kitchen maid. They are against one another, and she has Ivy running ragged, as would be, because Ivy was the bottom of the household hierarchy. However, Ivy does well and perseveres. Daisy goes to visit her father in-law.

Back upstairs, Sybil's parents are discussing who will be the lead doctor in her giving birth. Robert wants a man named Sir Phillip Tapsell (Tim Pigott-Smith), a famous London OB/GYN to oversee the birth, and to keep anyone out of the loop.

While he likes Clarkson, he felt he had misdiagnosed both Matthew with his leg injuries, and with Lavinia Swire's death from the Spanish Flu, so to prevent that, he brought in Tapsell, who is tops in his field.

However, Cora Crawley wants Clarkson, who had known Sybil's medical history from when she was a baby, involved in the decisions. Robert would get his way and Tapsell, a fashionable and knighted doctor who had a practice in Harley Street in London, would be the lead doctor, but Tapsell would concede (albeit rather grudgingly) to having Clarkson be kept in the loop.

During dinner, Sybil finally gives birth. Both families, above and below stairs, wait for the news. However, there are concerns. Dr. Clarkson had reason to believe that Sybil had more protein in her urine than normal. Also her ankles were swollen, which was a clear sign of Eclampsia.

Tapsell continuously (and arrogantly) pooh-poohs the doctor's findings, dismissing them as the opinions of an amateur. He clearly doesn't care that he had known Sybil's medical history, but he felt that his ego would not allow anyone else to be right.

Earlier, Tapsell had told Dr. Clarkson to not undermine him, even threatening him to have him removed from any further consultation. The two doctors argue out in the great hall. These events totally concern the downstairs staff, specifically, Anna Smith Bates, who had overheard the argument.

Another row would ensue when Sybil's condition gets more and more concerning. Tapsell still denying the symptoms of Eclampsia, while Robert is still demanding that only he and Tapsell knows better than anyone else about Sybil and her situation.

Their behavior gets so disgraceful that even the dowager countess agrees that Robert has overtaken all decisions to the detriment of everyone else. She reminds her son that it is TOM who is the father, not him, and that the final decision would have to be his. As she quipped, "Don't look at me, Cora's right. The decision lies with the chauffeur!"

Robert is trying to convince Tom that Tapsell is more experienced at what he is doing, as opposed to Clarkson; while everyone else is trying to sway him into getting Sybil to Downton Cottage Hospital to undergo an emergency caesarean section. However, Robert and Tapsell would have their way once again.

Some time later, Sybil gives birth to a beautiful little girl. After the downstairs is told about the birth, the whole house goes to bed.

However later that night, while everyone is sleeping, Lady Mary Crawley, runs into her parents room worried about Sybil. She is having seizures, a sign of Eclampsia. Even while she was dying, Tapsell still did not believe that he was incorrect.

Because he was trying to run things, and didn't think that she needed to be at the hospital, Sybil began to have seizures and wasn't able to breathe.

By the time the rest of the family, her other sister, Edith; Matthew, and Tom come into the room, it is nearly at the end.

Sadly, Sybil dies of Eclampsia. A grief-stricken Cora berates Tapsell and Robert for their inaction and their gross arrogance, and Tom is brokenhearted. Robert, for his part, is stunned that his twenty-four year old daughter, his youngest child, has passed away. In the silence, the baby can be heard crying.

Downstairs is again notified that Sybil had passed away. The downstairs staff is broken-hearted; even the usually stone-faced O'Brien is stunned. Daisy goes to Elsie Hughes who comforts her; while Thomas goes out into the corridor and is crying.

His grief is truly sincere (a rarity for the usually cold-hearted scheming servant), as he got on very well with Sybil, during the time that they ran the Abbey as a convalescent home together.

While he did not approve of her marrying Tom, he still counted her as someone he cared about. He is comforted by Anna, who too had known Sybil as she had been her part-time lady's maid.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Hughes receives comfort from Mr. Carson, as best as he knows how, referring that he had known Sybil from the day she was born. And while some of her ideas were rather befuddling to him, there was no question that Carson was fond of her.

The next morning, Grassby's, the funeral home from nearby Thirsk, comes to take Sybil's body out of the abbey. Tom is devastated, and Mary and Edith kiss their sister good-bye.

The family then gathers in the drawing room, and Violet comes in. She is racked by grief, and is shown to be crying, for the first time since she was introduced.  But as was always with her, she swallows her grief and puts on the stiff upper lip and is there for her family. 

Edith is worried about Tom, as is Violet. Violet asked where he was, and Edith explains he is upstairs, and he had been asked if he needed anything, but he didn't.

Cora wisely stated that Tom wants his wife back, but he cannot have her back, understanding his grief, as she is feeling that same grief too. She would then go to the library to write a letter to Dr. Clarkson to apologize for their behavior.

She would also personally tell Robert that she holds him and Tapsell totally responsible for Sybil's death, because they thought they knew better than everyone else, and did not even bother to listen to Dr. Clarkson. As a result, she banishes Robert into his dressing room for the time being while she grieves Sybil alone.

The night she died, Cora sat at her bedside and promised Sybil that she would take care of Tom and the baby. She finishes off her speech by stating that Sybil will always be "my beauty, my baby".

Her close connection with Sybil would come to the fore in later seasons with her bond with Tom, and her bond with the baby, whom she sees as the most tangible link with her late daughter.

The episode ends with Tom gently holding his newborn daughter in an upstairs room, while the body of his beloved Sybil is taken away.

In honor of his late wife, he would name the baby, Sybil the second. As stated above, Cora would gain a bond with the baby, which she saw as the most tangible link to her beloved daughter, and would be the one who would give her the nickname of "Sybbie", the name of which she would be called thereafter.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.