Paintings of St Peter and St Paul

The two paintings on the east wall by Edward Penny of Knutsford are recorded in the Corporation accounts for 1746, as the rebuilt interior was being finished. Penny went on to make his fortune in London in an era of English portrait painters unmatched across Europe. He became one the founders of the Royal Academy as its professor of painting. His subjects are the two great missionary preachers of the early Christian church. Peter is shown with a cockerel by his feet and with tears in his eyes as he acknowledges his betrayal of Jesus. Paul is facing his audience with a letter in his hand and sword by his feet, which perhaps was to signify the means of his execution.

The structure of the building meant that as the 18th and 19th century preachers stood in the three decker pulpit they were seen by the congregation to be flanked by the first century preachers, both of whom died for their faith. The liturgical message is unmistakeable, and with it the view of the corporation and gentlemen of the town who had built this church after petitioning the Bishop of Chester to be allowed to pull down the old one.