In 2009, as part of a continuing series, I wrote a short article about the speculation of Jesus Christ visiting Cornwall. I found the topic an intriguing one, but as is to be expected the suggestions have no actual basis in fact.
Jesus Christ is identified with many things – Christianity, Jerusalem and Christmas – but Cornwall isn’t one of them. However, there have been many to suggest that Jesus visited Britain in his lifetime. The land of the chough and the pasty is widely known for its tourist spots; but this visitor – two thousand years in the past – is something unique altogether. So, why do some people speculate on this visit?
In the writings of the Bible, Jesus is stated as missing from the ages of twelve to thirty – this mystery provokes many thoughts in the minds of scholars and Christian enthusiasts for centuries. The legend grew that Joseph of Arimathaea brought Jesus to Britain, primarily in connection with the tin trade. There are different interpretations as to Joseph’s relationship with Jesus: some have it that he was his uncle, others that he was a distant relative; yet most are agreed that he was a rich merchant who had command of a large fleet of ships with vast connections throughout the Roman Empire, stretching from the east of the Mediterranean all the way around to the shores of south Britain.
The speculation continues. In Glastonbury a supposed first Christian church was erected, whilst in Cornwall, the industrious Jesus is stated to have taught the miners how to smelt tin from ore. After Jesus’ crucifixion, Joseph would return to Britain, bringing with him the Holy Grail, burying it around the Glastonbury area. The Grail would later give rise to King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable and their unquenchable, unending search for supreme knowledge and life.
Yet more bizarre accounts have Jesus avoiding crucifixion and living to a ripe old age; C.C. Dobson states that:
‘He returned and settled at Glastonbury for the purpose of quiet study, prayer, and meditation. Here He erected for Himself a small house of mud and wattles.’
Other books have Jesus visiting all across the world: India and the lands of South America! Furthermore, others state that he had a wife – perhaps a total of four! – and many of his descendants became future British monarchs. Obviously, with Jesus being such an important figure in world history, there is no shortage of takers as being the sites of his travels. Yet where is the evidence to support such wild claims?
The Bible has been frantically searched for clues, most relating to Jesus’ disappearance for many years, giving rise to the speculation that he went abroad. Then there are the related place names in Cornwall, a vast number of which are devoted to the Christian faith. Yet, surely, such names are not concrete proof: in that case mice would rule Mousehole, a red woman named Ruth would abound beside Camborne and Looe would be the setting of some particularly nasty urinal habits.
The strongest link is the mining of tin in Cornwall, which was in operation during this period, with remains found far and wide. Yet to assume that Jesus visited here is hard to believe; while the presumption that it was he who taught the Cornish how to mine is nothing short of preposterous.
Despite this, there are no shortage of books on the matter, such as Glyn S. Lewis’ Did Jesus Come to Britain and The Missing Years of Jesus by Dennis Price; the majority of the material originally being printed in the Victorian period under the titles of The Traditions of Glastonbury and Did Our Lord Visit Britain? However, the fact remains: there are no actual facts to link Jesus in Britain.