I have recently decorated Mercia bedroom here at Highclere Castle. It is a lovely bedroom looking south, so when you open the shutters in the morning, the views are glorious across the lawns, to the russet coloured woodlands of Sidown Hill, with the arch of the folly Heaven’s Gate at the top.
It has an 18th century four-poster bed with beautiful silk embroideries. The room used to be a bit of a shiny cold blue, which worked better on TV rather than in real life. Downton choose it for Lord and Lady Grantham’s bedroom.
The curtains in Mercia were, however, disintegrating; they were well past the moth-eaten, charmingly worn stage. That was my justification to my husband who has long ago given up trying to set a budget for decorating a room here. I never know what I am going to find that needs doing and so my budget rises in line with the invoices. The other ploy is to hide the letters and excellent suggestions from Sarah Morris and her team as we plunge into the project.
Highclere is a quite a masculine house but here we could create a really feminine room around the beautiful bed. Sarah’s mood board pulled out the oyster colour from the silks to use as the base for the walls, with a stippled effect, new curtains, – in blue – new pictures, a chintz armchair, rewired lamps, and a new rug. It has come into its own as the exceptional room which had been hiding behind the flatness of the previous paint. It also looks as if it has been there for ages.
It was named Mercia for the Anglo Saxon kingdom. (The 4th Earl was a keen historian of this time). It is also nicknamed the “No Mercy” bedroom by Geordie (my husband ) and family because Porchey, the 6th Earl of Carnarvon used to put any prospective girlfriend, married or not, in there. He would then leap out from behind a door hoping to get lucky. Given what happened in Downton last night it was particularly amusing, that by chance, Mercia had been chosen from the first series to be the Grantham’s bedroom. He had an optimistic approach and clearly played a numbers game.
Porchey’s amorous stories, however, were not confined to Highclere, there are many stories of him hiding under the stairs, climbing out of windows, running away across a road pursued by a furious husband…his antics live on in anecdotes even if the “No Mercy” room has changed its colours.
Absolutely beautiful! We so enjoyed our visit to Highclere in May 2012! It was the highlight of our trip!
Enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading about your latest improvement to Highclere. The Mercia bedroom is beautiful. I also enjoyed the tidbits of background info. I can only imagine how breathing it must be to enjoy the room in the morning sun. Thank you for the glimpse into your daily life.
Stunning photos of the castle through Heaven’s Gate its just as I remember it when I was last up there & hope to return at some stage & enjoy the views again as well as the other thing I was there for 🙂 I love the ceiling in Mercia & the rug too must be wonderful waking up in the morning on a sunny summers day or on a cold frosty morning in Winter.. I love the name given to the room Mercia knowing its a name of a Anglo Saxon kingdom, do you have a Wessex Room named after Anglo-Saxon kingdom that dates from 519AD to 925AD its a sad thing that is not used a lot these days names of bedrooms I think they should return it gives it a loving feeling to a building if each room as a name.. Thank you Lady Carnarvon for another 1st class blog to the insight history of your home
We have a collection of anglo-saxon names for some of the bedrroms : Wessex, Northumbria, East Anglia, Kent and Sussex (and Mercia)
Of course I loved the bedroom before, but have to say it looks so beautiful in the photo! I have just finished reading your book about Almina, and I enjoyed every moment of it – learning about the history of the Castle and the people who have walked where I walked this summer!
Thank you – it is beautiful and I have just hung some huge prints of birds in the bathroom as well as bought a charming anew mirror and that looks better now too. The bath is huge..
The room is beautiful. I love the soft, restful colors. Sounds as though you have the same discussions about decorating a castle that we have in our home–budget, color, and all. The history of the room makes it even more interesting. Here in the states everyone is anxiously awaiting our turn to see the new season. I had to explain to my daughter that the UK sees it first. January, I think, it will begin here.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Once, again, I so enjoyed reading your post and your eloquent writing, surely a reflection of the elegance you’ve designed in the beautifully refurbished Mercia Room. It’s stunning and femininely graceful. I might add that it was ineresting to read about the 6th Earl and his antics. I wonder what he would think of the changes to this bedroom? Perhaps, however, whatever the updates, he would not have changed. What I especially love in the “No Mercy” bedroom is the stunning tester bed. We have a half-tester at home, and there is something so sheltering and cozy about sleeping beneath its satin-lined canopy. I feel safe there. Your photogphaphs are exquisite, and I especially love the sweeping view from Heaven’s Gate. Highclere Castle almost resembles a jewel box from that perspective. On second thought, perhaps it *is* a jewel box, an English architectural gem, boasting refined furniture and art, and a fascinating history as well. Thank you for your generosity in sharing with the public the abode you call home.
PS Thank you also for the Downton Abbey teaser. I’m American, so you’ve piqued my curiosity. We are on pins and needles over here to see what transpires in this beloved British drama, but we’ll have to wait until January 4th to find out! Oh! It’s difficult.
I am tryting to make sure I give nothing away!!! I suspect the new bedroom would only have helped Porchey … his sister Lady Evelyn redecorated some of the rooms in 1937 for him but I don’t think much was done post World War Two, it all got sometimes repainted but not re-decorated and re-loved.
I can hardly wait until January to see Season 5 in the U.S. The bedroom is gorgeous. I’m so glad I was able to visit Highclere and can visualize the grounds in proportion to the views you describe, Lady Carnarvon. Thank you for sharing with us.
Wonderful and warm feeling to the bedroom decor. View is breathtaking, and I especially love the perspective on the Autumn Castle photo. Thank you for sharing it all with us, Lady Carnarvon. Wish I were there sipping tea and relaxing with a good book and a pup by my side. xoxoxo
What a beautiful room! That big portrait looks intriguing- I’d love to know more about it. When I was at the Castle last April I noticed so much fine art. Especially the Joshua Reynolds on the wall on the staircase landing. Also, the ceiling in this room makes such a big part of the statement. Thank you Lady Carnarvon for your commentary and images.
The ceilings are beautiful and in some rooms we ahve used 7 differnt colours of off white to bring out the beauty of the cornices, the rolls etc…
I adore this room – absolutely love the mirror above the fireplace. Thank you for sharing your stories, I always perk up when I see an email from you with a new blog post.
Thank you for sharing your stories and pictures of Highclere they are simply beautiful. This room is lovely and the history behind it is fascinating. Again Thank you Lady Carnarvon
Lady Carnarvon, I have just subscribed to your blog and I will have to check out your past blogs. I am a Downton Abbey fan from the USA and I wish to see Highclere Castle in person someday. In the meantime,your blogs will give me alot of information and the photos will be the next best thing to being there. I adore the family background and stories of your daily life. The Mercia bedroom is absolutely gorgeous! Very nice job,dear! Can’t wait to see your next blog!
The furnishings are gorgeous. Love the ceiling, in particular! It must be so gratifying to be able to restore parts of this beautiful castle, bit by bit. Having visited Highclere, i am glad to think I’ve contributed, if only in a small way, to the upkeep of this magnificent place. Thanks for blogging!
My mum and I have been hooked on Downton Abbey and I would love to visit Highclere castle!! It’s so interesting to read your blog, what a beautiful house!!
I’m an American livin in Texas. I have a subscription to Netflix and had watched a PBS series on the secrets of Highclere Castle. And now intrigued.
Sincerely your Ladyship. Marc Edward
I live in a tiny fishing and tourist town called Bandon (yes, named for Bandon, Ireland) in the state of Oregon, USA. My grandmother, Lily Gates Edwards, was born and raised in England. She passed away in the 1950’s, and I did not know her well. I love everything English, and it is probably best I never set foot in England, because the authorities would have to drag me back to the United States. I love this beautiful home and so many others. I would give anything to see England, but at my age of 73 and not being able financially to travel, I go to websites like this one and can only say “Thank YOU!? to those who make it possible for me to do so.
It is a beautiful and never fails to suprise me with another corner of a view…. I love to find out about what really happened and who was here. I hope I can then understand it better, to contribute better to today.
Dear Lady Carnarvon
It is with delight that I have stumbled across your blog. A friend and I are thrilled to be attending the drinks reception at the Castle on 17th December in aid of the British Legion and I hope to see some of your wonderful home then.
I am lucky enough to live about 3 minutes away from Lord Fellows (although he doesn’t have the slightest clue who I am!) and therefore the ‘Downton’ connection is very real to me.
I will be an avid follower of your blog from here on and thank you for giving your time to share it with us.
Best regards. Susie
Dear Lady Carnarvon
I have tried every way I can to get tickets to the tour of Highclere. We are scheduled a cruise out of Southampton on June 2, 2015 which cannot be changed at this time. We plan to come to London early to visit. Is there anyway you or someone else can assist in getting four tickets for the Highclere tour on May 26, 2015. I have been in touch with Ms Julia Morgan but she said they have all sold out but there MIGHT be some available on the 26th at the gate. We are coming from the United States for this cruise and visit and would be grateful if we could secure tickets for the tour and know that we could gain access.
Your style is really unique in comparison to other people
I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this page.