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10 Ways Sanditon’s Mr. Colbourne Proves He’s The One for Charlotte

Sanditon’s Mr. Alexander Colbourne isn’t as naturally suave as his romantic rivals. He avoids dancing like the plague, struggles with self-worth, and prefers conversing about horses and dogs to discussing poetry. Many ladies would find his lack of interest in the art of courtship disappointing. And yet for one particular lady in the seaside town of Sanditon, Mr. Colbourne couldn’t be a more perfect suitor. For Miss Charlotte Heyward, he is The One.

By the time Charlotte’s story concluded in Sanditon’s third season, I was fully convinced the series had given its heroine a Jane Austen-worthy arc. Her romance with Mr. Sidney Parker in season 1 had sexy moments, sure, but it left me deeply unsettled. The guy lectured her regularly and didn’t seem to respect her as an equal. Plus he, you know, got engaged to an heiress without so much as a heads-up. With Mr. Colbourne’s introduction in season 2, the show (inspired by an unfinished Austen manuscript) teased Charlotte’s second chance at love. Then Season 3 brought it all home. Evolving from a grumpy lord of the manor to a supportive life partner, Mr. Colbourne showed Charlotte that he is her true soulmate.

So how, exactly, does Mr. Alexander “Xander” Colbourne prove he’s worthy of Charlotte—and make Heybourne shippers deliriously happy along the way? Let us count the ways…

(Fair warning: This article contains spoilers for all of Sanditon, including the final 6 episodes of the period drama, airing now on PBS in the US.)

#1: Kissing Charlotte with knee-weakening passion.

Unlike most Austen adaptations, Sanditon treats fans to multiple kisses between the heroine and hero. Each time Xander has an opportunity to show Charlotte how much he desires her, he takes it, kissing her with naked lust. The lady can have no doubt that she’s wanted, body and soul. That’s no small thing in Regency England, when a love match was a “nice to have” rather than a requisite for marriage.

#2: Working to become the father his children need.

Miss Heywood brings Mr. Colbourne back to life in season 2, a truth he acknowledges easily in season 3. When they meet, he’s in a dark place, convinced he failed his late wife and could never be a good father to Leo and Augusta. Buoyed by Charlotte’s faith in him, Mr. Colbourne resolves to turn his relationships around, and he does. It’s a good thing too; Charlotte would never marry a man who didn’t cherish his role as a father. She adored her dad and would only want to have babies with someone she believed could inspire those same sentiments in his own child.

#3: Dancing with Charlotte even though he hates dancing.

This is a man who will do anything to make his lady smile. He demonstrates this through simple but meaningful acts, like showing up to balls for the chance to see (and dance with) Charlotte. Our dear introvert may yearn to be at home instead of on the dance floor, but you can tell he loves holding Charlotte in his arms.

#4: Doing “a great kindness” for Charlotte’s best friend.

If Mr. Colbourne is a Mr. Rochester type in season 2, he levels up to a Mr. Darcy in season 3. Not only does he sexily stride across a windswept moor (hello, 2005 Pride & Prejudice Mr. Darcy) to beg his lady’s hand in marriage (more on that scene later), but he also gallantly comes to the aid of her bestie. Local lawyers won’t represent Miss Lambe in her court case, so Mr. C fetches his estranged brother from London to defend her from the frivolous lawsuit. He doesn’t do it to impress Charlotte either; she only finds out by accident. He just knows how important her friends are to her, and he wants her to be happy. Aww.

#5: Accepting Charlotte’s rejection.

We love a man who takes an answer of “no” with good grace. This is a low bar, admittedly, but men can be trash, like that cad Colonel Lennox from season 2. Heartbreak is written all over Mr. Colbourne’s face when Charlotte says his marriage proposal is too late and she cannot accept. Nevertheless, the next time he sees her, he’s perfectly civil. In fact, he continues to pine for her in a sexy way. And later, when he says he’s learned that “a young woman has the right to choose her own destiny,” viewers know he’s not just referring to Augusta. No, he’s also referring to Charlotte’s decision to marry someone else. Obviously, he’s one of the good ones.

#6: Taking Charlotte’s advice regarding his rebellious niece.

Mr. Colbourne respects Charlotte’s opinion and shows it by asking her how to handle Augusta’s infatuation with Sir Edward Denham. Then, wonder of wonders, he actually listens to her answer. And rather than fly off the handle when his headstrong niece later runs off with Sir Denham, Mr. Colbourne goes directly to Charlotte for help. You couldn’t ask for a better test of how the pair would handle co-parenting, and they pass with flying colors. After navigating this high-pressure situation with him, Charlotte (and all of us) can rest assured Mr. Colbourne would in no way be a domineering, inflexible husband. Far from it. He’d treat her like an equal.

#7 & 8: Professing his love–twice!

For a man of few words, Mr. Colbourne sure knows how to make a grand speech (or two!) when the situation calls for it. Like when he seeks out Charlotte to confess, rather desperately, that he loves her and wants to make a life with her. It’s achingly romantic. Swept up in the moment, Charlotte pushes up on her tiptoes for a kiss that he returns with equal fervor…until she pulls away, distraught that she’s kissed someone other than her fiance. She proceeds to break both their hearts that day, telling Mr. Colbourne he should have said all that sooner.

All’s well that ends well, however. That angsty refusal just gives Mr. Colbourne the opportunity to make a second, even more swoon-worthy declaration! Which he does, a few episodes later, this time with more confidence she’ll agree to marry him. Where his first “I love you” is nearly frantic, his second his heart-burstingly hopeful and sweet. Even better, Charlotte’s in a place to say “yes” to his marriage proposal and melt into his embrace for another steamy kiss, this time with a clear conscience.

#9: Giving Charlotte the wedding day she deserves.

Charlotte deserves the world! But ensuring she gets married in a decked-out church, surrounded by all her friends (and, presumably, family members we just couldn’t see…), and clad in a gorgeous white gown is a good start. Our girl radiates happiness when they kiss the first time as husband and wife, and Mr. Colbourne made that happen. Well done, sir.

#10: Becoming a stay-at-home dad so Charlotte can teach.

During her engagement to Mr. Ralph Starling, Charlotte admits she’s worried that marriage and motherhood won’t be enough to satisfy her ambition. Working as the Colbourne family governess, supporting Miss Lambe at her trial, and bringing books to Sanditon’s less fortunate children gave her a broader sense of purpose. Mr. Colbourne, as her husband, doesn’t try to change that about her. In fact, he enables her to live her best life. As we learn in Sanditon‘s final moments, Xander plays doting father to their children (including a new baby!) while Charlotte teaches at the local schoolhouse. He’s come such a long way from the curmudgeon we met in the season 2 premiere, becoming a true partner to Charlotte. Honestly, a woman is lucky to have a husband like him today, let alone in 19th century England, where upper-class gentlemen seemingly barely interacted with their children. 


How did Mr. Colbourne win you over as a suitor for Charlotte? Were you happy with how their romance played out?

To relive some of Heybourne’s best moments in the series, I highly recommend this brilliant vid:

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like: “From Sidney Parker to Alexander Colbourne: Sanditon‘s Hero Glow-Up”


  1. Lovely article! One small error in #3, Colbourne never actually asks Charlotte to dance in either Season 2 or Season 3! They only end up dancing together because the dances called for the dancers to change partners. A coincidence each time.

    1. WHAT. How on earth did I not realize that?! Thank you for the correction! All I can think is that my brain must have simply shut down every time they were on the dance floor together. 😉 I will tweak that section so it’s more accurate.

  2. I love Sanditon! Especially seasons 2 and 3 and thoroughly enjoyed reading your article about these two seasons. I do agree with you on Sidney’s relationship with Charlotte in season 1. I never felt the chemistry there as I did between Charlotte and Alexander Colbourne. Season 2 and season 3 were well worth the wait. Ben Lloyd Hughes was terrific as the brooding gentleman that changed after meeting Charlotte and realized he could forgive himself, love again and be happy. The writers did a phenomenal job with the different story arcs of this ensemble cast and the actors were a joy to watch as they brought the characters to life. Charlotte and Alexander Colbourne definitely gave us the wonderful swoon-worthy moments that are a treasure in the Jane Austen stories. Sanditon, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility are definitely my favorites. Thank you again for sharing and presenting details that are enjoyable to read and relive these lovely moments between Charlotte and Alexander.

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment! I’m so happy to hear this piece resonated with you.

      I’m very curious about what Austen herself would have made of Sanditon, but as a fan of her other works, I was perfectly satisfied!

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