We're now back at the crossroads Looking towards Handbridge, Chester, with Lower Bridge Street coming over our right shoulder, disappearing under the city wall through the 1788-rebuilt Bridgegate we can see ahead, on past the towering Dee Mills, and then out of sight across the River Dee towards Handbridge and Wales. To the right of our view is Shipgate Street, leading to a second gate that once went through the wall close by, but was demolished in 1831. It also leads to St. Mary's Hill and the church we saw from Duke Street.|
The painting was auctioned by Sotheby's in June 2003; the sale price is unknown to us, but 10-15,000 pounds was anticipated. We don't have a date of painting and there are no obvious triggers in the scene to suggest one. Visitors' views are welcome on this.
The two principal buildings seen in the crossroads painting are the Old Edgar (on the corner) and the Bear and Billet, and Louise did (at least) two more studies of the buildings, as we see here. At (left) is the Old Edgar, Lower Bridge Street which had once been an inn (hence its appearance), but was later converted into two houses. It still bears the inn's name, which arises from a local tradition of King Edgar of England visiting Chester in 973, and requiring eight other kings to row him across the River Dee in demonstration of their submission to him. The painting on the building wall reprises the event, but we don't have a date for Louise's painting.|
Almost the last building before the Bridgegate is the Bear and Billet Inn (right) (with George Spicer sharing the building for his own business). The road is visibly steep at this point. Whereas the Old Edgar probably dates from the late 16th century (but much restored since), the Bear and Billet dates more positively from 1664, when it was built as a town house for the family that had a half-share in the Bridgegate tolls. The warehouse doors in the gable are for a hoist to store grain there. Looking at all that glass, one wonders how the family felt about the Window Tax brought in just a few years later (1696) under King William III, and not repealed until Louise was commencing her adult career. No doubt the gate tolls got a little heavier! The painting itself is The Bear and Billet, Lower Bridge Street, but the date is unknown.
These two paintings have a very similar feel to them - the painting style, the people, the state of the street, etc. - and may even have been sketched on the same day. There are odd little differences such as the sign above the door of the red-brick building sandwiched between the principal subjects, but this could have been accidental or deliberate omission. More interesting is the chimney stack that went missing from the same building, but even that isn't true evidence for a different date, because comparison between the two paintings will show that a whole column of windows is missing in the Bear picture! Paintings provide even less reliable history than some photographs!
[Both from the Grosvenor Museum collection and included in Picturesque Chester. Small prints available.]
|This small image Edgar Inn, Shipgate Street, Chester may not seem to offer anything new, but we see almost the whole of the Bridgegate, which tells us that this is a later painting as it shows an arch on the upper level like the one in Eastgate Street (though probably without a clock). It also shows a little more of the side street - and we could swear that church spire has tiptoed to the right!|
Andy King says "This spire intrigued me as there is no church in that position on the North side
|of the river. However the large church and spire of St Mary Without-the-Walls was built in Handbridge (south of the river) in 1887 to replace St Mary-on-the-Hill, next to the Castle [now a Heritage Centre]. I'm not convinced you could actually see the spire from where the paintings were made. I suspect that Louise's patrons in the Grosvenor family put up some of the money for the church in Handbridge. So in the tradition of all the best artists, Louise had to find a way of making the invisible visible!"
Had you gone through the Bridgegate, across the Old Dee Bridge, turned west alongside the river and then looked back to the north, you would have had something like this view of Chester Castle from the River Dee - or to put it less romantically, the county jail serving out its twilight years (it closed in 1884 and soon after became the first county hall). The church is St. Mary's-on-the-Hill - previously seen from Duke Street and reached via Shipgate Street from the crossroads near the bottom of Lower Bridge Street. The church tower (restored in 1861-2) is the only obvious date marker, but it was very likely that the picture was painted after that date anyway. Otherwise we have no date for the painting. [Grosvenor Museum collection and included in Picturesque Chester.]|
Chester (front page)
Lower Bridge Street
Foregate to the Cross
Many of the Chester images appear with the co-operation and courtesy of the Grosvenor Museum, Chester.
Harry Drummond, January 2015.
|DudleyMall pages about Louise:|
|Louise at Dudley|| - Front page introduction, Dudley, link to Richard Rayner's work at Dudley.|
|Louise Rayner|| - the main biography, listing some of her early paintings|
|Louise at Chester|| - where Louise made her home and did some of her best work.|
|Louise at Flint|| - her drawings for Henry Taylor's book.|
Louise on expedition:
North to South progression, West before East
|Louise in Scotland|| - Edinburgh|
|Louise in Southern Scotland|| - Roslin Chapel (we have no other Scottish paintings at present)|
|Louise in Northern England|| - York... Selby... Beverley... Durham|
|Louise in Wales and the west Midlands|| - Conway... Ludlow... Gloucester|
|Louise in the South and South West|| - Oxford... Chippenham... Salisbury|
|Louise in Eastern England|| - Lincoln... Derby... Cambridge|
|Louise in London and its region|| - Temple Bar, Drury Lane, Holborn, Greenwich, Eton and Windsor|
|Louise in the South East|| - Tunbridge Wells, Knole, Herstmonceux, Canterbury, Hastings... more|
|Louise Abroad|| - Rheims, Nuremberg, Bruges... and possibly Venice|
|In preparation:|| - The Rayners at Windsor|
Please note: we claim no art expertise, and in no way do we offer provenance for any paintings. What you see here was
compiled out of interest in Louise Rayner's paintings and those by her family, but is based on sometimes very fragmentary
evidence. It is inevitable that there will be errors, though we naturally correct these when we learn of them.
We would gratefully receive any information or corrections that will help us to fill the gaps and resolve unproved links - for
example confirmation of dates of birth, death, etc., and details of other addresses the family lived at (and roughly when). Images
of any of the family's paintings would also be very welcome. And we'd like to thank the many people who have already
contributed - you've helped to make these pages as good as they are. Thank you!
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