Liverpool was a key town in the Civil War, but a brief period of puritan dominance subsided at the Restoration when the Town reasserted the position of its church. In 1699, the Parish of Liverpool, with a population of about 5,000, was created as an independent parish in its own right and had two churches: Our Lady and St Nicholas (often called the ‘Old Church’ or St Nicholas) and a new parish church of St Peter (1704). The new parish had the highly unusual arrangement of having two Rectors, who were to be of equal status. They alternated churches on an annual basis until more modest arrangements were made for a single Rector of Liverpool from 1855.
In 1747, a spire was added to the existing tower of the church, and in 1749 the churchyard was extended by the addition of a piece of land reclaimed from the river due to the construction of a sea wall. It is hard to imagine now, but before the land was reclaimed during the late-19th century to make a space for the present Liver Building, the river and dock system actually came right up to the boundary wall of the church.
George’s Dock, which was the third dock to open (in 1771), was immediately outside the church and was the resort of ships arriving largely from the West Indies. A merchants’ coffee house stood in the church yard (possibly in the former chapel building of St Mary del Quay) which had commanding views of the river. Thoroughfares passed in every direction through the church yard which created an atmosphere of hustle and bustle, far removed from the traditional quiet place of solitude and reflection anticipated in a church yard.