A RETIRED reflexologist drowned in a lake near her home, an inquest heard.

Penelope Wheeler was found dead in Burley in the New Forest on January 15.

Winchester Coroner's Court heard the 74-year-old had become a widow in 2012. Her son Thomas Wheeler told the inquest how her mum was drinking between six and 12 bottles of wine each week.

He said she struggled with the grief but he had no reason to believe she would take her life.

He said the last phone conversation they had was on January 13,when he told her to feed the horses, after the conversation he called her back several times and then rushed to the home and told police about his mother's disappearance.

Police spent a day and a half searching for Mrs Wheeler, with up to 12 officers looking for her at one stage.

Her body was later discovered in a 'body of water' close to her home on January 15.

The court heard a statement by detective sergeant DS Heward .

He concluded Mrs Wheeler either took her own life and entered the water, or had stumbled and fallen and accidentally entered the water.

Pathologist Adrian Bateman said a toxicology test revealed Mrs Wheeler was nearly three times the drink drive limit and said cause of death was drowning.

Senior coroner Grahame Short recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Mr Short said: "I think she had been to the stables to retrieve some hay and she went out to the horses and the place where she would normally them and got disorientated and stumbled into the water and once she got in the water she was unable to get out as the water was so cold and it caused a vascular reaction when she entered the water."