Please don’t dig up the lawn!

Dowsing is a very enjoyable line of work; you get to meet some very nice people, and work in some interesting and beautiful places.

One such was an Elizabethan water-mill which had been converted into a house, fronting onto a two acre mill pond fringed with woodland.  It had been extended by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens early in the last century.

The owner wanted to turn off the water supply, to enable some plumbing repairs to be done in the house.  However, the main stopcock inside the house would not budge; it hadn’t been used in many years and now was seized solid.  A plumber had been called to replace it, but that couldn’t be done until the mains flow had been stopped further up the pipe.  The flow would be stopped by clamping the pipe, but all the piping that was visible inside the house was metal.  The plumber was sure that the pipe outside the house would be plastic, but there was no information about where it was.  He had asked for a dowser to locate the water main outside the house, which led to my involvement.

The plumber wasn’t on site when I arrived, but the client explained the situation.  Using L-rods, I dowsed the pipe from the stopcock and got a good clear signal. I followed it away from the house, through a flower bed with a topiary bird, down a small slope and straight out into the lawn. The client wanted the pipe excavated in the flower bed under the topiary bird, to avoid digging holes in the lawn.

He also wanted the plumber to meet me, and called him, but was told it would be at least an hour before he could get there. After a cup of tea, and a tour of the house with its inglenook fireplace, exposed roof beams and upstairs music room modelled on a medieval hall (complete with a large leaded light window), we called the plumber again… and he was going to be another hour.

The client and I wanted to end the suspense of waiting to know if my dowsing was correct.  So we decided to start digging. We tied back the topiary bird and dug a hole and soon hit a 4-inch (100mm) drain pipe.  At first it seemed that I had found the wrong pipe, but we dug further down until, running across under the drain, we came across the plastic water main pipe that connected to the stopcock in the house. Eureka! And I was within one inch (25mm) of accuracy in my estimate of the depth. So the dowsing had worked, and the pipe was excavated at a point which meant minimal disruption to the garden.

The plumber finally arrived, and the client’s wife joined us.  Just for fun, I trained all three how to dowse on the lawn, on the line of the pipe that I had detected. They were all delighted to get a reaction.