The present watercolour of the Royal Mile encompasses the four streets that make up this famous area of Edinburgh: Castle Hill, Lawn Market, High Street and Canongate, forming the passage from Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle. This particular scene looks towards the Castle, with St. Giles Cathedral and Tron Kirk to the left, and John Knox's house on the right - an area known as the Old Town. During the 1890s, this rundown area was restored to its former glory, and many of its buildings were later secured for the University of Edinburgh.
In the far distance, St. Giles Cathedral is recognizable by its crown- shaped spire, a building which was altered much over the centuries, and served many functions, including housing the police service in the 19th Century. Tron Kirk, to the left, was designed by John Mylne, the King's Master Mason, but was rebuilt in the Gothic style after being damaged in the fire of 1824.
Rayner had a particular personal interest in the house of the fiery Protestant preacher John Knox, which was unusual in that it featured two stairwells, one of which is clearly recognizable in the right foreground. Rayner also executed a further more detailed study of the house, showing her fascination for the sixteenth century construction.