Two guests found dead in Essex hotel pool 'drowned'

Staff dived into the water to save them but they could not be resuscitated

The death of a couple whose bodies were found underwater in a swimming pool at an exclusive country house hotel were "consistent with drowning", Essex Police have said.

The man and woman, who have not been named, were staying together at 14-century Down Hall in Hatfield Heath, Essex, on the same night a murder mystery party was due to take place.

Their bodies were found at 7.35pm on Saturday in the spa area of the historic Italianate mansion.

Among the other functions being held, there was reportedly a murder mystery game and the real-life “unexplained” deaths were initially viewed as being part of a “fantastically realistic event” by revellers.

“It was only then that the police told us there had been a real incident and two people were dead,” one hotel guest told the Daily Mirror. 

Staff dived into the water to save the man, aged in his 30s, and the woman in her 20s, but they could not be resuscitated. Both are believed to be from the London area.

Police said they had checked in together but it is not known whether they were among the groups celebrating at the hotel-conference centre. It was reported they were dressed in their swimming costumes.

The hotel itself advertises its Murder Mystery breaks which it claims offer visitors a “night of intrigue and suspense”.

Detectives are treating their deaths as unexplained. There is understood to be no evidence of foul play and investigations are continuing. No one else is being sought in connection with the incident.

Chief Inspector Nick Lee said staff and emergency services had battled “valiantly” to save them. He said: “As part of the investigation we are trying to focus on what the relationship was between the victims.”

He added: “It’s a very busy hotel; there were a number of functions going on. At the moment we haven’t ascertained whether these individuals were part of any function.” Investigating officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate described the incident as “very unusual”.

Set in 110 acres of surrounding woods, parkland and gardens, near Bishop’s Stortford on the Hertfordshire and Essex border, the venue is a popular place for weddings and business meetings. In 2009 it played host to the wedding of the late-Big Brother star Jade Goody and her husband Jack Tweed.

The manager, Chris Falcus, said: “We are devastated by this tragic incident and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those concerned. We are co-operating fully with the police investigation.”

Louise Saunders, a guest, had spent two nights at the hotel celebrating a birthday. “We were going to use the pool about 5.30pm but decided against it as the pool was busy with families and children. I’m so glad now we didn’t,” she said.

Police and scene of crime experts spent all night and yesterday at the scene – a building separate to the rest of the 99-room hotel.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star