There is a legend that Jesus in his youth
visited England with Joseph of Arimathea
as a merchant and as Christ's uncle.
According to the legend, Joseph A. lived near what is called the "Chalice Well".
Joseph of Arimathea weary and exhausted from the long trip, stepped out of the hide covered skiff and planted his wooden staff into the ground... This site is called Weary-all Hill. At that site the traditions state that the staff of Joseph grew into a thorn bush with beautiful white flowers that bloom [around Christmas]...
This thorn bush also by tradition lived for almost fifteen hundred years until one of Cromwell’s Christians sought to eradicate its memory by chopping it down. The tree grew again from its roots and transplanted in several sites in England, one of which is by the present day Glastonbury Abbey Chapel.
And then there was the Glastonbury Thorn which is said to have grown where Joseph of Arimathea planted his staff on Wearyall Hill. The remarkable thing is that the Glastonbury Thorn, which flowers twice a year, is not a native species, but originates in the Middle East, possibly in Palestine. It was cut down by Cromwell’s men but the townspeople took slips of it and scattered them in gardens around the town. The 20th-century one grown again on Wearyall Hill was vandalised a few years ago and is now a bare stump, hung about with votive ribbons. Even the new sapling meant to replace it has disappeared. Yet flourishing Thorn trees can be seen elsewhere, most notably in the churchyard of St John the Baptist in the High Street.
Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury with the Flowering Almond Staff with the Glastonbury Tor
According to legend, after the Great Commission Joseph of Arimathea was sent to Britain to spread the faith.
Map showing a theorized journey of Joseph of Arimathea
Glastonbury Chalice Well
Christian mythology suggests that Chalice Well marks the site where Joseph of Arimathea placed the chalice that had caught the drops of Christ's blood at the Crucifixion, linking the Well to the wealth of speculation surrounding the existence of the Holy Grail. The red of the water is also said by some Christians to represent the rusty iron nails used at the Crucifixion.
William of Malmesbury wrote in the 12th c.:
“In the year of our Lord, 63, twelve holy missionaries, with Joseph of Arimathea (who had buried the Lord) at their head, came over to Britain, preaching the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
The king of the country and his subjects refused to become proselytes to their teachings, but in consideration that they had come a long journey, and being somewhat pleased with their soberness of life and unexceptional behavior, the king, at their petition, gave them for their habitation a certain island bordering on his region, covered with trees and bramble bushes and surrounded by marshes, called Ynis-wytren (and later Glastonbury).
Chapel of Mary at Glastonbury Abbey
Wikipedia considers at least some of these stories disproven:
myths dispelled include the visit by Jesus, the building of the oldest church in England, and the flowering of the walking stick. ... The legend that Joseph of Arimathea retrieved certain holy relics was introduced by the French poet Robert de Boron in his 13th-century version of the grail story, thought to have been a trilogy though only fragments of the later books survive today. The work became the inspiration for the later Vulgate Cycle of Arthurian tales. De Boron's account relates how Joseph captured Jesus' blood in a cup (the "Holy Grail") which was subsequently brought to Britain.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glastonbury#Mythology_and_legends
The story is still told “at Marazion in Cornwall of St. Joseph coming there to trade with tin miners” (Glastonbury - Her Saints, page 66 by the Rev. Lionel Smithett Lewis, MA). In the Guide to Penzance (Ward, Locke and Co.) it is stated; “There is a tradition that Joseph of Arimathaea was connected with Marazion when he and other Jews traded with the ancient tin miners in Cornwall”. Marazion means ‘bitter Zion’. It’s other name is still Market Jew. The origin is said to be derived from the fact that it was a colony of Jews, who traded in tin. “‘Jew’s houses’, ‘Jew’s tin’, ‘Jew’s leavings’, ‘Jew’s pieces’ are still common terms in the Cornish tin mines. The oldest pits containing smelted tin are called “Jew’s houses”. (Glastonbury Her Saints, page 66). “Amongst the old tin workers, who have always observed a certain mystery in their rites, there was a moment when they ceased their work and started signing a quaint song beginning ‘Joseph was a tin Merchant;.” According to other traditions, Aristobulus was a major apostle to Britain, and the apostle Simon the Zealot
was martyred there.
Gildas the Wise, the earliest Christian historian (AD 425-512) distinctly says that the Light of Christ shone here in the last year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, that is AD 37. This falls in with the claim recorded above, which gave precedence to British Bishops at the Church Councils on the ground that Britain was converted "immediately after the Passion of Jesus Christ". It fits in also with the statements of Fuller and Polydore Virgil already recorded that the Church of Glastonbury was the Senior Church of the world; with Sir Henry Spelman's words that Britain received the Faith soon after the Crucifixion; with Alford's statement that Aristobulus was in Britain before St. Paul went to Rome; with the observance by the Greek Church of the martyrdom in Britain of Our Lord's disciple, St. Simon Zelotes, on May 10, AD 44 (a date supported by Cardinal Baronius; and with Hippolytus' (born about AD 160) inclusion of that Apostle in his lists as "Bishop of the Britons".
While some orthodox traditions say [Aristobulus] "died in peace", others say he was martyred in Wales. Catholic tradition says he was martyred. The Benedictine monk Serenus de Cressy (1605–1674) maintained that Aristobulus was ordained by St. Paul and died at Glastonbury Abbey in 99 AD; but Michael Alford (author of Fides Regia Britannica Sive Annales Ecclesiae Britannicae) says that Aristobulus was the husband of "Mary" Salome, which makes this date appear too late. Alford gives his death as "the second year of Nero" – 56 AD. Alford also asserts that "It is perfectly certain that, before St Paul had come to Rome, Aristobulus was away in Britain". This is in accord with the date given by Gildas the Wise (c. 500–570 AD) that the "Light of Christ" shone in Britain in the last year of Emperor Tiberias. However, George Smith points out that this a misinterpretation of Gildas, and says that the Gospel was not preached in Britain before the reign of Claudius, whose full name was Tiberius Claudius Caesar.
From these traditions it seems that Aristobulus was the founder of British Christianity (probably at Glastonbury). While Joseph of Arimathea or members of his group may have been involved, the early writings frequently centre on Aristobulus. However, there is no mention of Joseph prior to the Conquest.
Taylor makes the penetrating comment that Phoenician trading-posts and colonies were always the first to receive Christian missionaries; not only Antioch and Tyre, but Marseilles, Alexandria, Spain and Cornwall…. For there was a founder of Christianity in Britain in the 1st century, and whether it was Joseph or another, he brought an eastern, not Roman brand of the faith. Celtic missionaries, amazingly enough, were already converting Europe from Britain at that time…. In 190 Tertullian of Carthage wrote ‘The extremities of Spain, the various parts of Gaul, the regions of Britain never penetrated by Roman arms, have received the religion of Christ.’ Sabellius the heretic said in 230 AD ‘Christianity was privately expressed elsewhere, but the first nation that proclaimed it as their religion was Britain’.http://sacredconnections.co.uk/index.php/christ-mission-in-britain/
Regarding the Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea in Cornwall legends, Walter de M. Seaman writes: “There are those among the older folk of the district of St. Just-in- Roseland, near Place Manor, who used to repeat the age-old belief ‘Christ came in a ship and anchored in St. Just Creek,’ and across the waters of the Fal at Falmouth, this odd little story was brought to light: Joseph of Arimathea and the young lad Jesus from Nazareth, landed at the Strand (now the town quay), crossed the stream and went up Smithick Hill…. In the far West of Cornwall, there are or were two rich lodes (or veins) of tin. One was named Corpus Christi (the body of Christ) and the other Wheal Jesus. Wheal is the old Cornish word for mine
The article above narrates legends connecting two Roseland churches with Jesus.
St. Just in Roseland Church
“It would appear to be just a legend except for two inscriptions in the almost unknown Church of St. Anthony-in-Roseland in Cornwall. On the South Door of the Church is a story in ancient Pictographs, carved in stone over 1000 years ago. It is said to read that Our Lord came with his uncle to Cornwall for tin.
South door of St. Anthony in Roseland Church
Another narrative is that Claudia, mentioned in Paul's letter to Timothy, was Welsh and brought back Christianity from Rome to Wales:
On a hill called Caer Caradoc, at Church Stretton in Shropshire, the Welsh king Caractacus, leader of the combined British forces, made his last stand against the Romans. He was defeated and taken to Rome in chains, where he made a speech to the Senate claiming that he had done nothing wrong, and had only defended his realm as any king would do. He was well treated in comparison with other defeated kings, and was allowed to return to Britain as a puppet king under Roman rule.
He was accompanied on his journey to Rome by members of his family including his daughter Gladys who was re-named Claudia. His son Linus is thought to have arrived later when things were more peaceful. Linus and Claudia both became actively involved in the early church. Linus became the first Bishop of Rome, and Claudia married a Roman Senator called Rufus Pudens. It was probably in the house of Pudens where the Apostle Paul spent his last two years and received visitors. Pudens, Linus and Claudia are all mentioned in 2 Tim. 4:21. Details of the story, together with a number of sources, are given by Malcolm Bowden (1).
Claudia returned to Britain as a successful missionary and made many converts to Christianity.
(2 Timothy 4:21) Paul sends to Timothy the greetings of “Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brethren”. This Claudia – the only woman to be mentioned in that list – is evidently an important
figure in the early Christian community.
...one tradition states that this Claudia was the wife of Pudens (mentioned in the same letter) and that she was the mother (or perhaps the sister) of Linus (also mentioned) who was the second Bishop of Rome (St Peter’s immediate successor).
Furthermore, historians have tried to find a Claudia, married to a Pudens, at the right period of Roman history: and have come up with the figure of Claudia Rufina,married to Aulus Pudens (a senator and friend of Martial, the poet).
As well as being the friend of St Paul, Claudia and Pudens were also the hosts of St Peter and their house (which became the church of S. Pudentiana in Rome) was the place where St Peter celebrated Mass, and where he ‘held court’ over the universal church.
an account of the seventy disciples discovered at Mount Athos in 1854 lists Aristobulus as "bishop of Britain". Medieval accounts of King Lucius, Fagan and Deruvian, and Joseph of Arimathea, however, are now usually accounted as pious frauds.Later the 2nd c. British king Lucius accepted Christianity.
The earliest certain historical evidence of Christianity among the Britons is found in the writings of such early Christian Fathers as Tertullian and Origen in the first years of the 3rd century, although the first Christian communities probably were established at least some decades earlier.
... the earliest known Christian martyrs in Britain—Saint Alban and "Amphibalus"—probably lived in the early 4th century. Julius and Aaron, citizens of Caerleon, were said to have been martyred during the Diocletianic Persecution, although there is no textual or archaeological evidence to support the folk etymology of Lichfield as deriving from another thousand martyrs during the same years. ...Three Romano-British bishops, including Archbishop Restitutus of London, are known to have been present at the Synod of Arles in 314.
The Venerable Bede, writing about AD 740, says: "The Britons preserved the Faith which they had received under King Lucius uncorrupted, and continued in peace and tranquillity until the time of the Emperor Diocletian."
It will be noticed that two distinct events are spoken of above: (1) The foundation of the Church in England by the Disciples of Christ. (2) The acceptance of Christianity by the British Nation under Good King Lucius about AD 170. Britain was the first of all nations to accept Christianity as its national religion.
A 2nd-century "word square" has been discovered in Mamucium, the Roman settlement of Manchester. It consists of an anagram of PATER NOSTER carved on a piece of amphora. There has been discussion by academics whether the "word square" is actually a Christian artefact, but if it is, it is one of the earliest examples of early Christianity in Britain.
The earliest confirmed written evidence for Christianity in Britain is a statement by Tertullian, c. 200 AD, in which he described "all the limits of the Spains, and the diverse nations of the Gauls, and the haunts of the Britons, inaccessible to the Romans, but subjugated to Christ".
Archaeological evidence for Christian communities begins to appear in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Small timber churches are suggested at Lincoln and Silchester and baptismal fonts have been found at Icklingham and the Saxon Shore Fort at Richborough. The Icklingham font is made of lead, and visible in the British Museum. A Roman Christian graveyard exists at the same site in Icklingham.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Britain#Christianity
Hinton St. Mary Mosaic, 4th c.
Christians were THRIVING in Britain before Augustine: Ring confirms Roman converts were more widespread than thought before first missionary arrived
Ring dates back between 312 and 410 AD was found near Swaffham in Norfolk
It bears a Latin inscription saying 'Antonius, may you live in God', a phrase commonly found on the rings of Roman converts
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2397943/Ring-confirms-Christians-THRIVING-Britain-Augustine.html#ixzz4cPPELUjv
So Cornwall, Glastonbury, and maybe Wales appear to get some of the most attention, although there was the discovery of the ancient square artifact in Manchester.