Rayner Biography: Intro  //  Ann  Frances  Louise  Margaret  Nancy  Richard  Rose  Samuel  //  Known Paintings  Sources
Regional pages for Louise Rayner:    Scotland    Northern England    Wales and the west Midlands    South and South West
Eastern England    London and its Region    South Eastern England    Louise Abroad     Town pages:   Chester   Flint   Dudley


Louise lived intermittently in London with her parents in the 1850s/60s but our paintings list holds very few entries - both surprising and disappointing. It's possible that some paintings went into permanent ownership and others were destroyed by the London Blitz in World War Two - or perhaps she just tended to look for subjects outside the city. However, she did find several subjects in one tight geographical area.

The Temple Bar, London is an entrance to the City of London - the small semi-independent core of London whose few streets house most of its financial institutions. It may have intrigued Louise, and her paintings would surely have appealed to clients well able to afford the several versions she painted. Temple Bar was the last surviving City gateway, replacing a wooden gate that had separated the City of London from Westminster. That gate had burned down in the Great Fire of London (1666) and this Sir Christopher Wren-designed Portland stone portal went up in 1669-72.
Temple Bar
It's interesting that there was so much money around so soon after such a disaster, especially with more important schemes such as replacement churches being built at the same time. It suggests that the financial enclave funded it themselves (and that the fire had provided more space for a grander gate and this brief opportunity was seized).

The above view by Louise is certainly appealing, with the coach and horses having apparently just come through the gate to stand in the middle of the road. Two horses seem inadequate for the pile of humanity on the coach (and a woman and children about to join them). The period is far too late for the coach to be one of the original Shillibeer horse buses, so it would be from one of the competing companies that sprang up afterwards. One of those companies was called "Omnibus" (Latin for "For Everyone"), soon shortened to "bus" - the generic word we now use everywhere. At the left, and in the shadows to the right, are small two-wheeler Hansom cabs. The painting is before the Bar was dismantled but otherwise not dated. The contrast in dress between the two ladies suggests that it could be late 1860s or early 1870s, a point when big bulky skirts began to slim down considerably, and shortly before Louise moved to Chester.

In the foreground, the small youth is a crossing- sweeper. He made his living in half-penny and penny tips for sweeping paths through the inevitable by-products of horse transport so that you could get across without perfuming and staining your skirts or trousers. He collected the droppings into sacks and sold them as manure. If necessary (and it sometimes was) he would fight for his patch with Temple Bar detail his fists.

The second view at far right has less detail in the background buildings and a different set of vehicles and figures. As in the painting above, the lower right window above the gate is open and has someone peering out, and the crossing sweeper is there again. When we look under the arch in the enlarged detail here, we see the back of a vehicle just like the one above - another horse bus, probably from the same company.
Temple Bar (2)

The upper painting went to auction by Christies in November 2006, where it sold for 7,800. We have no date or price for the lower one, which shares the same title, but Bonhams sold a second example in 2004 for 4000.

Louise had popular paintings in several towns and cities, and Temple Bar was possibly her most successful painting in London, with several versions that we know of, and probably more we don't know about. We are preparing a page to feature that aspect of artistic life.
By Louise's time, the Bar had become an impediment to traffic so it was carefully dismantled in 1878 and the parts carried off to Hertfordshire, where it was reportedly rather badly reassembled 10 years later at Theobalds Park. The painting at right (not by Louise) shows it there after re-erection.

This dismantling meant that Louise had to derive her later versions from her earlier studies and paintings such as these here. A bit too late for Louise's purposes, Temple Bar returned to London in 2004, repaired and re-erected with formal ceremony as a gateway to the newly redeveloped Paternoster Square.
Temple Bar at Theobalds Park

For those not aware of it, the Temple being referred to here was not religious, but instead was (and is) the home of the English legal system. It is a very short distance from Fleet Street, the home of most of our national newspapers until the 1980s. One wonders if the proximity was accidental or to enable each to keep a close eye on the other.
[The 1980s were when the war between union and newspaper managements went critical and led to a newspaper exodus from the area to Wapping and elsewhere, with the newspapers making new contracts with different unions. It was reported that the Fleet Street pubs got a lot quieter after that.]

Wych Street, view 1 Below right is a segment of Drury Lane, London sold by Christies in 2005, with Drury Court full of activity with flower and possibly fruit trade in progress, and typical round wicker baskets stacked at right.
Drury Court segment

Wych Street, view 2 Above left: Drury Court, London, viewed from Drury Lane and showing its junction with Wych Street. On the left corner is Symonds, whose trade isn't clear, but the higher sign offers tea and coffee rooms. Partway down a quieter Drury Court than seen above right, sunshine slashes across the street. Almost beside it a street light stands in the middle of the road. A painting by another artist explains it more clearly: the rest of the Court is pedestrian only - the lamp marks where carts have to bear right into the sunlight. At the far end of the Court is the steeple of St Mary le Strand. The City of London Collage collection (see below) has an almost identical view by Louise but with different figures. Theirs is thought to be about 1875 and this is probably about the same period.

At right: Looking north along Wych Street itself, this time seeing St. Clement Danes Church in the background. This painting went to auction at Christies in November 2006, but didn't reach its reserve.

Wych Street (derived from Via de Aldwich, an old lane it was once part of) was in London's theatre district close to the south end of Drury Lane near The Strand. While that might suggest a romantic view of the street, the reality in Louise's time was less becoming (described in one place as "low-life"), with the street mixing minor theatres such as the Olympic Theatre, Opera Comique and the Globe Theatre (but not the best-known one!) with inns of court and
chancery, and public houses. The latter included the Angel Inn, the White Lion tavern, and at an earlier time the Queen of Bohemia, named after Elizabeth of Bohemia, the daughter of James I - and Lord Craven's mistress. And there was also an only-partially-suppressed shop selling books and prints of a decidedly dubious nature.

You might wonder how a small street could encompass so many things, but it accessed areas hidden behind it and beneath it, and shared by other streets such as Hollywell Street. And their worn and ancient condition was what drew Louise to them: the area had escaped the ravages of the Great Fire of London (1666) and as a result retained the kind of decrepit but characterful Elizabethan houses that flew so readily to her paintbrush. Wych Street itself was demolished and disappeared in 1901 as part of a redevelopment scheme, and the street level was by then distinctly more modern than in her paintings, so we'd guess this was painted 1880s-1890s. The painting at right is allegedly called A street in a country town, but comparison with the painting above might make you doubt that. We know that Louise kept her faculties, so someone else probably lost the original title (if you know what it should be, do please tell us). Further comparison, though, will reveal marked building detail differences. It's hard to put all of these down to real changes - but quite easy to suggest that Louise was slightly fictionalising one or both paintings to enjoy creativity in scenes she painted several times.
A street in a country town
Fashion suggests this one is 1860s, and we know this area experienced considerable change, but it's quite possible that Louise was playing games with the later painting as well. We know that Louise also painted Hollywell Street, but we haven't seen that painting.

Right: The north end of Drury Lane runs into High Holborn, where we find the final painting from this location, Staple Inn, Holborn. This painting forms a permanent pair with Drury Court, London, at left above. They were auctioned by Sotheby's in 2005 for 4,800.

There is a very similar painting by Louise from the same viewpoint on the City of London's Collage site, and this carries the description "View east along Holborn with figures and horse-drawn vehicles on the street". The main subject is clearly the same Elizabethan frontage on the north side of the road, dating originally from between 1570 and 1588, and hiding the courts of Staple Inn behind it. This building still exists and has been restored (which is good) but by the mid-1930s had fallen prey to the usual restorer's belief that "if it's Elizabethan and framed, it has to be painted black and white". Well, no, actually...

Holborn streetlampCity of London suggest c.1875 for the date of their picture, but the one here looks to be a different period. One query is the street lighting. The City of London image has this lamp on the pavement (see left) - absent from the painting at right. It just happens that early electric street lighting experiments took place on Holborn Viaduct and the Embankment, and we don't know if the Staple Inn area was included.
   Holborn, London
Carbon arc lights - which these are not - were installed in 1878, and were then followed in 1882 by incandescent (light bulb) lamps, with Thomas Edison's company installing about 4000. These can be virtually indistinguishable from gas lamps, even when painted by an artist who enjoys detail - so we're still not sure!
For more information on getting City of London prints, see the bottom of our sources page.

Louise's painting Horseguards, London shows the building of that name built 1751-3 between Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade. Until 1904 the building was the headquarters of the British Army's general staff. The building still has a military function, but to the onlooker it is simply one of London's spectacles as the troops come out to set and change the guard. It's possible that the Household Cavalry's ceremonial uniform with highly-polished breastplate was old-fashioned even when Louise painted them, but horses were still a key element in battlefield mobility, and the men wearing those breast- plates were probably fully-trained serving soldiers.

20th century armour and mechanisation largely ended the use of horses in the front line, so the two regiments that support the Household Cavalry now operate in two joint units: one ceremonial, the other in active service with the Royal Armoured Corps.

We don't have a date for the painting but would suggest at least the 1870s and possibly as late as the 1890s.

   Horseguards, London

The last London image we have is of the Tabard Inn. This is the point where Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims set out, just on the south side of the Thames in Southwark. Talbot Yard is its former stable yard. Unfortunately we only have a monochrome image, but as usual, Louise's scene is brimming with life and the work being done to keep the inn running - cleaning the bed sheets, moving beer barrels, etc. There are several signs and the covered wagon appears to have extensive writing along its canvas (possibly the places it calls at, since the lines all seem to be the same size rather than big lettering for the company), but we cannot make out a single word on any of them!

Talbot Yard was auctioned by Christies in July 1989, and expected to make between 3000 and 5000. We don't know if it's been seen since.
Talbot Yard

Eton Street and Curfew Tower, Windsor Ruth Gadsby sent us the above image from an old print whose frame looked 70 years old or more, and asked for help in identifying it. At first we didn't take proper note of the top hats, and two of us didn't recognise the tower, but Andy King knew it right away as Eton and part of Windsor Castle, showing Curfew Tower in the castle walls near St George's Chapel. Its upper storeys and roof had recently been reconstructed under the direction of Anthony Salvin. This makes the painting post-1866 (but it could have been post-1885, in which year the Tower had to be refaced as the stone chosen in 1866 had proved to be too soft!). Since writing this, we have learned that the painting shown here is Eton High Street and dates from around 1870. But we believe that there is a near-identical painting of the scene called View along Eton Street to Curfew Tower, Windsor Castle, which may have the same date or a later one.

Businesses in the street include the flower seller's cart; "Adam & Eve", which appears to be a shop; and a frustratingly half-legible sign reading something like "Bar****s Centre". A different project reminded us that a lot of men had beards and/or moustaches which needed regular attention. The business could be a Barbers Centre, with service on more than one floor.

On the right near the carts, Ruth thought the shop might be a farriers; it doesn't look like a butchers, but the dangling bits on the awning might belong to a clothiers. Finally, when we were still trying to get the location, Tom Kerr did a search for "Turks Head Inn" and found the name went back to at least the 13th century, but this example wasn't among those traced, and it may be that the inn has since gone.

We didn't know the title for this image (right), either, though boys wearing top hats made Eton a probability for the location. But we now know it to be A break from divisions at Eton College. It was auctioned by Christies in 2004.
  Eton boys outside their college

The only painting we know of for Guildford is the one that Louise painted as a thankyou to her brother Richard, and though we've listed it in our known paintings, we don't know whether a version went on sale. See it on Richard's page.

At the gates of Greenwich
Greenwich (pronounced "grenitch") is the home of the British Royal Navy, and in the nineteenth century busily despatched sail-powered (and latterly coal-fired) men-of-war to all parts of the globe.

By the time that Louise painted At the gates of Greenwich the Danish, American, French, Spanish and any other wars we've forgotten(!) were over, and we were employing the Royal Navy as policeman of the world (not necessarily with the world's agreement!). In other words, the period of "send a gunboat" international policy. In one way this painting harks back to the earlier part of the century, as many of the figures are wearing tricorn (triangular) hats. We are not naval historians, but believe that by Louise's earliest painting days, the officers at least would be wearing bicorn (fore-and-aft pointed) hats. However, the officers had to buy their own uniforms (never cheap), and in periods of relative peace there would be little prize money for unnecessary extravagance, so the tricorns would persist as long as the Navy allowed them to. The ladies, of course, had different priorities and are wearing what look like 1860s fashions, thus dating the painting.

The crippled figure on crutches is a reminder of the consequences of battle in a period when such victims (possibly press-ganged into the Navy in the first place) were simply thrown out to fend for themselves - often by begging. The officers on the benches at right may be retirees hoping to meet and chat with friends - or men laid off and calling on the Admiralty in the hope of gaining a new appointment.

To continue into South Eastern England click Louise in the South East for Tunbridge Wells to Hastings

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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