THE rooms and grounds of Highclere Castle are iconic with lovers of Downtown Abbey. Charming and dignified, Highclere Castle or Downtown Abbey, as it is widely known on television and cinema screens, is the epitome of design and style, while reflecting the grandeur and history of the house.

Redesigning the more than 60 bedrooms of the stately home near Newbury has become a passion of Lady Carnarvon as she works to modernise the house.

And as the film starring Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith opened in theatres the Carnarvon family opened their doors to the public earlier this year, as they marked the launch of new collection of mattresses inspired by the home.

Speaking about her challenges Lady Carnarvon said she often struggles to replaces the mattresses, the majority of which are 150-years-old, in desperate need of replacement and prove difficult to buy due to their unusual shape.

But luckily, Silentnight have designed a new set ‘The Highclere Collection’, with indulgence at the heart, one of which is now taking pride of place in one of the castle’s many guest bedrooms.

Lady Carnarvon took over the running of the house, alongside her husband George, after her father-in-law unexpectedly died in 2001 and she set about preserving it for the future.

She said: “I've ended up knowing about interiors a little bit more than I thought I would.

“I've worked my way around the castle, which my parents-in-law never lived in. So, I started working my way around the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the really exciting hot water system, loos, plumbing, lighting... replacing the mattresses was a key part, too, because all the mattresses were about 150-years-old.

“So my sisters would stay with me and give me marks out of 10 for the mattresses – which was usually nearer two! I started on the worst ones. Almost every single one had to be made specifically for the beds. It was so boring! I had to take measurements and look at what John Lewis had and find there wasn't a single right fit, so I'd do three or four mattresses a year and work my way around the house.”

Highclere has 12 bedrooms on the first floor, with another 40 to 50 rooms on the second and third floors, many of which are now used as offices

Lady Carnarvon continued: “Good mattresses are important. If you sleep well at night, it's what gives us good health in the daytime. I have blankets and sheets rather than duvets, which is what my husband chose.”

But despite her standards being high, Lady Carnarvon revealed that she works on a budget and every decision she makes is down to how much money she has to spend.

“Like anybody else, I'm making decisions with where I go to suit my budget. I work with a girlfriend who is an interior designer but, in the end, it's my money and my home – but I very much rely on her because it's Grade I listed, and I also have English Heritage here. They trust what I'm doing but I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes sense.”

And much of her styling can be seen in Downtown Abbey, with rooms left almost identical during filming except a few precautions.

“Whenever they set the table for example, I ask them to put very thick cloths on it because they are there for 12 hours, leaning on the table, pretending to eat, spilling things on the table, with the long lighting booms over the table. I'm a custodian, I'm not a friend, I have a role. It's a beautiful table so they cannot have it unclothed, whereas we'd have dinner on it without a cloth on. So they have layers of blankets on it and a white cloth. There's just that practical approach to it. They're fine with it.”

And speaking about seeing her home on the big screen, Lady Carnarvon said: “It is very surreal but you do get used to it. I learnt to step away from what the film do.”

Taking their names from rooms at Highclere Castle, Wessex, Arundel and Mercia, the new Silentnight mattresses boast different sprint counts and comfort levels.

Silentnight marketing director Ian Lambert said: “Working with Lord and Lady Carnarvon, we have been able to create the Highclere Collection, which truly embodies this famous British landmark, both in design and comfort.

“Taking inspiration from the Castle’s interior and exterior, we’ve created a premium product, designed to offer luxury at an affordable price.”