It wasn't long before clergy and parishioners who know their history picked up on the error, with Lloyd Llewellen-Jones professor of ancient history at Cardiff University and an Anglian tweeted: "I think that we can trace the roots of the established Church in England to at least 664CE, if not earlier. 485 years? Pah!"
The 664 date refers to the Synod of Whitby, when the kingdom of Northumbria chose to follow Roman rather than Celtic church practices.
Some members of clergy commented an earlier start date to the CofE was accurate. One of Anglican chaplain responded to the tweet: "That's funny, I thought my diocesan cathedral dated to the mid-4th century as a site of Christian worship? Are we simply one of many protestant sects, or Ecclesia Anglican, the Church of England? Please delete this and read the history page of the CofE website."
As the historians came out of the Twitter woodwork, not to be outdone, a canon in the south of England said that "coming originally from the diocese of St Albans" he regarded the Church's starting point to be around 209AD, the date traditionally given for the martyrdom of the British saint.
The CofE's tweet was welcomed by at least one Roman Catholic, however, who described its claim of a 16th-century origin for Anglicanism as a "very revealing slip-up".
A spokesperson for the CofE told The Times newspaper, that the CofE "derives many of its distinctive features from the events of the 16th and 17th centuries. Of course, its origins go back at least as far as the 3rd century AD and we are grateful to those who took time to discuss this on social media."
The tweet has since been deleted.
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