Mansion swimming pool deaths ‘unexplained’

Police at the gate to Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hatfield Heath, Essex. Picture: PA
Police at the gate to Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hatfield Heath, Essex. Picture: PA
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Post-mortem examinations will take place today into the deaths of a man and woman found in a swimming pool at a country mansion.

The bodies of the pair, a man in his early 30s and a woman in her early 20s from the London area, were discovered in the water at Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hatfield Heath, Essex, on Saturday evening.

Staff dived in to try to save them after they were found at 7.35pm, but their efforts were in vain.

Police are treating their deaths as unexplained, and are focusing on the relationship between the victims as part of their investigation.

Chief Inspector Nick Lee said the police were not currently looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

He said: “Despite valiant attempts from the hotel staff and from the ambulance service, unfortunately it wasn’t possible to revive those individuals and they were pronounced dead at the scene.

Devastated

“Next of kin have been informed about this tragic incident and I can tell you at the moment Essex Police are not looking for any other people in connection with this investigation.”

Asked if the people had been going to any of the functions taking place at the hotel, he said: “It’s a very busy hotel, there were a number of functions going on.”

Hotel staff were distraught at the incident, manager Chris Falcus said.

“We are devastated by this tragic incident and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those concerned,” he said.

“As soon as the alarm was raised, two of our team dived into the pool and did everything they could to try to save them.

“We are co-operating fully with the police investigation.”

A number of functions are believed to have been taking place at the hotel, including weddings, birthday parties, christenings and a murder mystery event.

‘Fake police’

Morven Philp, a guest at a murder mystery game at the hotel, told the Daily Mirror that at first she believed the officers in uniform were fake.

“There were police and press at the entrance and we thought it was a fantastically realistic event,” she said. “It was only then that the police told us there had been a real incident and two people were dead.

“The hotel had left us a voicemail message which we hadn’t picked up. They allowed us to stay the night though the murder mystery evening had been cancelled.”

The hotel describes itself as one of England’s most established country house hotels.

Located near Bishop’s Stortford on the Hertfordshire and Essex border, it is 45 minutes from central London and also convenient for Stansted Airport.

Dating back to 1322, the Italianate mansion offers a historic setting, with luxury interiors and ornate ceilings.

There are 110 acres of surrounding woodland, parkland and landscaped gardens.