Sir Bevis (alternate spellings include Beavis and Bevois) of Hampton (Hamtoun) was the central figure in an Anglo-Norman medieval romantic ballad, possibly dating back to the 12th century. There were many versions of the ballad but in the most popular Sir Bevis was the son of Guy, the Earl of Hampton. He was sold into slavery and then imprisoned in Armenia where he had many adventures before finally gaining his freedom and winning the hand of the king’s daughter, Princess Josian. The king gave him a magical horse named Arundel, and a magical sword called Morglay, which he used to vanquish the giant Ascupart, who later became his esquire. Returning to his homeland he founded Southampton and (according to some versions of the story) was buried in the vicinity of Bevois Valley. Two painted panels of Sir Bevis and Ascupart formerly adorned the north front of the Bargate. They are now in the Bargate Museum. Sir Bevis and his story is reflected in the nomenclature of modern Southampton in the name Bevois which appears as the name of the areas Bevois Town and Bevois Valley, and in the street names Ascupart Street and Josian Walk.

Bevis and Ascupart

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The panel depicting Bevis and Ascupart formerly stood at the north front of the Bargate and is now in the Bargate Museum.

Further reading:
Southampton People, by John Edgar Mann, p18-19. (HS/t)
Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p81-2. (HS/h)


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