Rayner was born in Matlock, Derbyshire, and spent her early childhood there. She was taught to paint by her father and first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1852. Her first recorded visit to Chester was in 1869, and in the 1890s she and her sister Margaret lodged together in the city and taught watercolour painting.
The present watercolour was executed some time between 1869 and 1873 and illustrates the view from the right hand side of Bridge Street facing St. Peter's Church at the Cross, with the spire of the Town Hall in the far distance. The street is bustling with the hubbub of daily life as shoppers and vendors go about their business.