The church of St. John the Evangelist, Swindon, Staffordshire was consecrated on the 11 July 1854 as a Chapel of Ease within the parish of Wombourne. The Vicar (of Wombourne) was the Reverend James William Heale.
The church was consecrated by the Rt. Reverend John Lonsdale, Bishop of Lichfield.
Swindon became a separate ecclesiastical parish on 1 January 1867. The Perpetual Curate who was responsible for the church became the first Vicar of Swindon.
He was Reverend St. Aubyn Hender Molesworth St. Aubyn. In later life he inherited the family baronetcy in Cornwall and his son, born and baptised in Swindon, carried on the title. The family own the Pencarrow estate in Cornwall.
The Reverend Alfred Penny became Vicar in 1873 and in February of the following year his 22 year old wife gave birth to a daughter. Unfortunately Mrs. Penny died soon afterwards but her daughter Dora Mary survived.
Later that year Alfred resigned his post and in January 1875 he left Britain on the S.S. Great Britain to join the Melanesian Mission. He served there for ten years being based at Norfolk Island. In 1895, after becoming Rector of St. Peter’s Wolverhampton he remarried.
His new wife, being a close friend of Alice Elgar, meant that Dora Mary met Edward Elgar. She was later immortalised by him in his Enigma Variations as “Dorabella”.