Viscountess Hinchingbrooke reveals she takes daily dips in the freezing, frog-filled outdoor pool at Mapperton House and claims the cold water boosts her metabolism and circulation
- US-born Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, 48, lives at Mapperton House in Dorset and is married to Luke Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke
- Has been taking cold swims in estate’s natural outdoor pool since lockdown
- Says cold water immersion therapy every morning makes her feel ‘wonderful’
Many of us have adopted wellbeing-enhancing additions to our daily routine since the outbreak of Covid-19 – though immersing our bodies in freezing cold water every morning is probably one of the less common new rituals.
But for Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, taking a dip in the natural outdoor pool at Mapperton House in Dorset has become an essential part of her day.
The US-born 48-year-old, who is married to Luke Montagu, the son of the 11th Earl of Sandwich, says joining the frogs and newts for a swim ‘kickstarts’ her mornings and helps bring her mind into the present.
Writing in Tatler, Julie – known thanks to her role in the now defunct reality series Ladies of London – explained: ‘Jumping into a pool of cold water might sound like a strange way to start the day, but this is something I can’t recommend enough as a fun way to boost your health and soothe your mind.
Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, pictured in 2016, has revealed that taking a dip in the natural outdoor pool at Mapperton House in Dorset has become an essential part of her day
US-born Julie, who is married to Luke Montagu, the son of the 11th Earl of Sandwich, says joining the frogs and newts for a swim in the pool (pictured) ‘kickstarts’ her mornings and helps ‘bring her mind into the day’
‘Cold water immersion therapy is something that I have made a part of my daily routine since lockdown started in the UK — and I feel wonderful for having done so.’
Julie has shared several snaps of her enjoying a float around the idyllic-looking pool on her Instagram page – and admits she eases herself into the icy water by repeating the mantra: ‘It’s just a sensation.’
She told how immersing your body in cold water is ‘incredibly invigorating’ and suggested those of us not fortunate enough to have an outdoor pool on our doorstep try it in a bath or shower.
Julie recommended trying it for a minimum of two minutes as a starting point, and stressed the necessity to keep breathing.
Julie told how immersing your body in cold water is ‘incredibly invigorating’ and suggested those of us not fortunate enough to have an outdoor pool on our doorstep try it in a bath or shower
‘Your body needs as much oxygen as possible when you plunge into the cold,’ she wrote in the society bible.
‘The obvious benefit of this practice is that it certainly wakes you up. This small shock to the system can help to bring your mind into the day, and to make you feel more alert and focused.’
Julie also discussed the other benefits cold water immersion, including boosting your metabolism, circulatory system and your immune system.
She explained how the cold water encourages your body to flush waste and bacteria from your cells, which kickstarts your white blood cells into helping your body stave off illness.
Julie also discussed the other benefits cold water immersion, including boosting your metabolism, circulatory system and your immune system. Pictured right with her brave cold water companions
Julie also lauded its ability to help the body recover and heal after vigorous exercise.
For the mother-of-four, the most important benefit is the feel-good factor plunging into cold water provides her – something she insists is scientifically proven.
‘Research has shown that exposing your body to cold water can increase the presence of certain neurotransmitters, including those all-important happiness boosting endorphins,’ she wrote.
In June, Julie detailed the ways in which she and her family are trying save their lavish stately home after losing £250,000 this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Julie pictured with her husband Luke, Earl of Sandwich, and children William, Emma, Nestor and Jack at Mapperton House – the family’s magnificent Jacobean pile in Dorset
The Montagus have had to embrace savvy new business ideas to keep the manor house and the family’s 15 acres of Italianate gardens afloat – including virtual tours and yoga classes.
Mapperton House: The finest manor home in Britain
Built in the 1540s with additions in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Montagus’ country pile Mapperton House has been dubbed by Country Life magazine the finest manor house in England.
Spread over three floors and three wings, the house boasts 16th-century plaster ceilings and 18th-century panelling, as well as the Sandwich collection of pictures and furniture that reflect the family’s contribution to Britain’s naval history.
The fourth earl is said to have invented the sandwich some 250 years ago when he decided to wrap his food in bread to avoid dirtying his hands as he ate.
But it is also said that in the 17th century the first earl invented the choc ice when he chilled down liquid chocolate from Spain with snow and salt.
To bolster their finances, the Montagus let the house out as a film location and it was seen in both the 2015 film Far From The Madding Crowd with Carey Mulligan and the 1996 adaptation of Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow.
Usually boasting 200 visitors a day in high season, the estate was only able to reopen its gardens on the weekend and still lacks the usual tourists from abroad and elderly guests that it relies on.
‘Mapperton costs around £200,000 a year to run, but this year we’ve lost around £250,000,’ Julie said, speaking to The Times.
She is heavily relying on donations from those who watch her virtual tours of the estate.
Having hosted An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates on the US Smithsonian Channel, the experienced presenter offers weekly online tours of Mapperton alongside her in-laws, either the Earl, 77, or Countess, 78 of Sandwich.
‘It’s entirely a family affair: Luke does the filming, our 13-year-old son, Nestor, does the sound recording, and people love it because it’s so personal,’ Julie explained.
Getting more involved at Mapperton has represented a new freedom for Julie, who for years was unable to spend much time there as she was holding the family together at their south London home.
Julie – who has four children – Emma, 21, and Jack, 18, from her first marriage, and William, 15, and Nestor, 13, with Luke – supported Luke through his recovery from prescription drug dependency following the misprescribing of anti-depressants and sleeping pills after a bad reaction to a sinus operation.
Her husband was unable to work for three years after his medication was wrongly stopped abruptly in 2009, and she became the primary breadwinner until he received a substantial settlement for medical negligence in 2014.
With little income or support, Julie effectively became a single mum and a carer, and was forced to be resourceful.
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