Well, now, who woulda thunk? I was reading the lovely Lingard today, on the early days of Britain, up to the early fourth century, and after observing that Christianity had already spread through the Island to a significant degree, he said the following:
It might have been expected that the British writers would have preserved the memory of an event so important in their eyes as the conversion of their fathers. But their traditions have been so embellished or disfigured by fiction, that without collateral evidence, it is hardly possible to distinguish in them what is real from what is imaginary.
Lingard says that the British Church was so well established by the end of the third century that it is written of by contemporaries as equal with the Churches in Gaul and Spain. We know also that at the Council of Arles in 314, the British Bishops, Elborius of York and Restitutus of London were present.
He relates a pleasing episode too, about Caesar Constantius, during the time of the Augustii, Maximian and Diocletian. This is not specific to Britain, but it’s of interest. Constantius was the Caesar (ie the heir to the Western half of the Empire) at the time that Diocletian issued a severe persecution of Christians. Refusal to worship the pagan gods was made punishable by death. Constantius was not in favour of this, however he informed the Christian officers of his houshold that they must determine to either
resign their employments, or to abjure the worship of Christ. If some among them preferred their interest to their religion, they received the reward which their perfidy deserved – as Caesar [Constantius] dismissed him from their service, observing that he would never trust the fidelity of men who had proven themselves traitors to their God.