HE was the legend who founded a Hampshire city in an epic adventure of magic, heroism and romance.
Last night the red carpet was rolled out in Southampton for the glitzy home premiere of a short movie bringing the tale of Sir Bevois to the big screen.
The mayors of Southampton and Eastleigh, councillors, civic dignitaries, cast and crew turned out at the city’s Harbour Lights cinema to watch To Unwill a Heart, which was shot at historic landmarks around Southampton.
The 15-minute film about the legendary tenth century founder of Southampton was written and directed by Solent University lecturer Gela Jenssen.
She proudly displayed a letter from the Queen praising the film, which she read out to guests at the private screening.
Ms Jenssen gave the tale a modern spin after much painstaking research trawling through ancient documents.
She said: “It’s a truly epic and dark tale, and very relevant in the context of post-9/11 and the perception of Muslim/ Christian relations.”
The film revolves around the tenth century legend of Sir Bevois, the son of Sir Guy, Earl of Hampton, who was sold by his mother to slave merchants and ended up in Armenia.
The film chronicles his quest to return to English shores and reclaim his father’s land, with the help of a magic sword, battling lions and falling in love with a beautiful princess along the way.
Once back in England he is said to have founded Southampton, before eventually dying in the city.
The film had a successful debut at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, where it was shown alongside offerings from the likes of Woody Allen and Oliver Stone.
After its showing at the prestigious French festival, a European agency is considering taking on the film, while the production team is pitching ideas for a full-length version to several film companies.
Who was Sir Bevois?
LEGEND has it that Sir Bevois was the son of Sir Guy, Earl of Hampton.
He was sold to slave merchants by his mother and ended up in the court of the king of Armenia and falling in love with a Muslim princess.
He underwent heroic adventures in his attempts to claim his father’s land.
Along the way, armed with a magic sword, Mortglay, and accompanied by his giant page, Ascupart, and charmed horse, Hirondelle, he fought lions to defend Josian – a beautiful Muslim princess he fell in love with.
Once back in England he is said to have founded Southampton, and according to some versions of the story, died on Arundel Tower, which still stands today as part of the city’s historic walls.
Although it is unclear how much truth there is in the legend, Southampton has several places named after it, including Bevois Valley, Josian Walk and Ascupart Street.