The Edgar Inn, Shipgate Street, Chester signed 'Louise Rayner' (lower right) watercolour and bodycolour 34.5 x 52cm (13 9/16 x 20 1/2in).
PROVENANCE: Private collection, Connecticut,USA since 1890s.
Shipgate Street derives its name from a small opening in Chester walls which led to Skinners Lane, an area of animal skinners and tanners and small wharves, between the River Dee and the city walls. The gate was demolished in 1831 and later re-erected in Grosvenor Park.
This view shows the corner of Lower Bridge Street and Shipgate Street. The Edgar Inn is now The Old Edgar, and is a 15th or 16th century timber framed house with two gables. The Bear and Billet is the three storey black and white building with single gable which was originally the Chester residence of the Earls of Shrewsbury. It was built in 1664, replacing the previous building which was badly damaged by canonade during the siege of Chester.
The Bridgegate was designed by Joseph Turner and built in 1782 in order to maintain the complete circuit of the walls of Chester. It replaced the medieval Bridgegate which was demolished in 1781, which incorporated a 17th century watertower which fed drinking water from the Dee to the City. Beyond Bridgegate is the facade of Dee Mills, the corn mills powered by the Dee. Dee Mills date back to the 11th or 12th century, and had the monopoly on grinding corn in Chester into the 18th century. They were remodelled and extended many times through the centuries, often after fires, and were finally demolished in 1910.
On the skyline is the spire of St Mary's without the Walls, Handbridge. Rayner's inclusion of the spire shows her using some artistic licence to create a convincing townscape, even though only small portions of the spire can be occasionally glimpsed from Lower Bridge Street.