'Chester' The Cross, looking towards Watergate Street signed 'Louise Rayner' (lower right) watercolour 52 x 75.5cm (20 1/2 x 29 3/4in).
Virtually all of the buildings shown in this painting have been either rebuilt or extensively remodelled since Rayner painted this view, yet the Cross still retains much of the atmosphere conveyed in this picture. This painting shows the Cross at Chester prior to the redevelopments of 1888-1893 by Thomas Meakin Lockwood for 1st Duke of Westminster.
The buildings on the corners of Bridge Street and Eastgate Street, and Bridge Street and Watergate Street were remodelled. Rayner has depicted the early Georgian building on the corner of Bridge Street and Watergate Street, with the storeys above the row supported on elegant Georgian columns. This was replaced by the present day rounded building which has a terracotta brick and stone facade.
The building on the left, on the corner of Bridge Street and Eastgate Street was replaced with Lockwood's highly ornate, decorated black and white tudor style building.
On the right are the buildings on the corner of Eastgate Street and Northgate Street; some of these buildings were restored as recently as 1993. Rayner depicts how in this area many of the dwellings incorporated the rows into the interiors of the buildings. During the 17th and 18th centuries the rows were frequently described as dark, smelly and unsafe and many residents petitioned the city authorities for permission to enclose the rows.
The south facade of St Peter's church is shown. The origins of the church are thought to be anglo-saxon, but the present building mostly dates from the 13th and 14th centuries. It was extensively damaged during the Civil War seige of Chester 1645-46. The High Cross was pulled down by the occupying parliamentary forces after the seige of Chester ended on 3 February 1646.