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.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
voicesBy the man who has
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?