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The Legend of Jesus in England

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the Holy Lamb of God,
On England's pleasant pastures seen!
And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green and pleasant Land!

(William Blake 1757-1827)

The historically rich and lore loaded Great Britain holds yet another tradition: that the boy Jesus lived there for a time. Sandwiched between the Roman invasion and King Author tales of the Grail quest lies a persistent tradition that Jesus, members of his disciple group and family, at one time or another, stayed in the various places in or near Glastonbury.

Stonehenge was not originally built by the Druids; no one seems
to know for sure who or why it was built, though it may have been an ancient observatory.

Joseph of Arimathea(the man who was later given Jesus’s body and laid it in the tomb) figures significantly in these traditions, of which there are at least four. Summarizing them, Joseph of Arimathea was a tin merchant who had mining interests in the Glastonbury region of England. He took the boy Jesus with him on at least one of his trips to the British Isles. They traveled by ship and arrived in southwestern England. From there, Joseph toured the mines in Cornwall and Somerset County where Jesus learned how to extract the tin and purge it from its ore. An old saying emerging from Priddy, a mining village in the Mendip Hills of Somerset county is: “As sure as Our Lord was at Priddy...”

What did Jesus do while in England besides learn the tin trade? Writings dated around A.D. 550 by Taliesin, the Prince-Bard Druid may suggest Jesus began an early teaching ministry: “Christ, the Word from the beginning, was from the beginning our teacher, and we never lost His teaching.” Though these words could imply something more spiritual than the earthbound boy Jesus imparting Knowledge to the Druids, Jesus Christ, nevertheless, had a profound impact on the future of Druidism.

40 miles distant from Glastonbury is Stonehenge. This ancient cluster of mysterious, upright granite rock forms is thought to have been an important center of Druidism. Not much is known about the true Druidic faith, however. Most of their teachings were forgotten as they were first conquered by the Romans and then became ideologically absorbed into Christianity.

While Joseph of Armethia (an Uncle of Jesus) discusses arrangements
with the locals, the boy Jesus looks on.
Behind them are a wattle hut and a workman chopping wood.

In spite of this, various authorities purport Druids believed in life after death. Their concept of God was that of a Trinity; a monotheistic supernatural being named Duw consisting of three personalities—Beli the creator who ruled the past; Taran, who was in charge of the present; and interestingly enough, Yesu, the “All-Heal,”—the coming future Savior! This belief finds parallels in Christian thought which describes God as the Three in One—i.e one God with three aspects: the Father(creator), the Holy Spirit(comforter) and the Son(redeemer)!

Did this ancient religion anticipate Jesus whose teachings later so intrigued the Druids as to ignore their own faith and allow it to fall into superstitious abandonment? And, did the boy Jesus personally meet the folk who awaited Yesu’s coming?
Thinking that the entire island was heathen, Saint Augustine traveled to Britain in 597AD. All were unbelievers as expected. That is until he reached a certain western section and found a well established Christian Church tradition there complete with clergy and holidays! The subsequent report to Pope Gregory describes the location of his findings in what could very well have been Glastonbury, which was then a lake island in southwest England. .

At the time of Jesus, Glastonbury was a lake island. Marshlands may have made parts of it accesable by foot.The island has been continuously occupied for thousands of years. It has been theorized the site's location to hard land coupled with its highly defensable yet fertile ground made it an ideal spot for habitation.Today, Much of the aquatic landscape has since disappeared, having been packed in by wetlands growth, swamp drainage and fill .

According to early stories, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea returned to England. Accompanying him were some of the believers including relatives, friends, and other followers of Jesus including his mother, Mary. Along with his companions, some legends claim he took with him the cup from which Jesus drank from at the last supper—a cup that would later be known and searched for as the Holy Grail.

Joseph and his group settled on the Isle of Glastonbury and built huts to include a church for themselves, probably made of the same sort of material the indigenous people used— mud plastered over a framework of sticks woven with branches(called wattle). They preached and taught the local people the true faith and laid the foundation for what Saint Augustine found 500 years later.

Considering the strength of tradition, documents evidencing Joseph’s nature of employ among other things, the events of the era together with the Bible’s silence on much of Jesus’s life;* it is not difficult to believe England’s snowy meadows once felt the leather-bound feet of the boy Jesus frolicking through them on one of his birthdays.


Maps of the British Years of Jesus

* Editor's note—Jesus’s Palestinian mission is well documented. Where Jesus went what he did and to some extent what he taught is well represented in the four gospels. However there is no record in the Bible about the life of Jesus between the ages of approximately 3 to 11 and again between his 13th and 29th birthdays. If Joseph took with him the child Jesus to England as traditions seem to indicate, it probably was between the time Jesus was 4 and 11 years of age.

Largely extrapulated from an article originally published in Heart magazine by Summit University Press,
Winter 1985, pp. 20-22, 114-115.
Other portions are from The World book Encyclopedia, volume 18, by Field Enterprises Education Corp., 1974; Funk & Wagnalls Standard Reference Encyclopedia, volume 22 by Standard works Publishing Co. Inc., 1961; and Lands and Peoples, volume 1 by Grolier Inc., 1967

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