Actor Jane Barry portrays ill-fated Gooloowan maid Rose Dold in a play based on the “baby in the well” mystery.
Actor Jane Barry portrays ill-fated Gooloowan maid Rose Dold in a play based on the “baby in the well” mystery.

Ipswich tragedy on stage

THE intriguing story of an Ipswich servant charged with her baby’s death in 1889 will soon be revealed in a Fractal Theatre play.

Rose Dold was a 21-year-old maid and cook at one of Ipswich’s finest houses, Gooloowan, then the home of the Cribb family.

The play’s writer and director, Brenna Lee-Cooney, said Ms Dold had come to Ipswich from Germany a few years before the incident.

At Gooloowan, she lived in what was known as the “virgin’s room”, suggesting the behaviour expected of unmarried servants.

This room overlooks the underground well where her dead baby was found.

“I originally read about the case in the QT about 10 years ago,” Ms Lee-Cooney said.

“The incident was actually shrouded in secrecy, which has made our hunt quite difficult.

“We tracked down the girl’s name, dug out court and coroner’s reports.

“The final transcript said she was going to Toowoomba jail, with hard labour.”

After Ms Dold’s 12-month jail term, no records have been found about what happened to her.

“We assume that she changed her name and moved away,” Ms Lee-Cooney said.

“In those days, that record would have destroyed her life.

“She had no family and no one to turn to.”

Ms Dold had concealed her pregnancy from her employer, Clarissa Cribb. “She corseted herself and kept working,” Ms Lee-Cooney said.

“Everyone raved about what a good worker she was.

“You really don’t get the impression that she was the town tart.”

The one-woman play, Rose, will be presented beside the well at Gooloowan, 43 Quarry St, on Sunday, May 8, at 6.30pm by actor Jane Barry, with a backdrop of filmed and still images.

“I think Rose was naive in a number of ways and did have a great sense of wonderment about things,” Ms Barry said.

“It must have been pretty tough to go what she went through.”

The audience is encouraged to dress circa 1890. To book, call 3102 1978.

Fractal Theatre has three productions planned for May in conjunction with the Anywhere Theatre Festival.



Border collie tied to pole for two years

premium_icon Border collie tied to pole for two years

There was only bare earth beneath the neglected border collie

REVEALED: Our busiest roads as suburbs driven to gridlock

premium_icon REVEALED: Our busiest roads as suburbs driven to gridlock

The traffic count shows a surprising list of busy and quiet roads