Heraldic Stall Plate of Sir John Say (died 1478)
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Bronze, gilt and enamels. Early 20th century stall plate attributed to Harold Soper, heraldic enameller.
Sir John Say (died 12 April 1478) was an courtier, M.P. and Speaker of the House of Commons. He was the son of John Say, born before 1445, and his wife Maud. His brother, [Master] William Say, was Dean of the King’s Chapel, Master of the Hospital of St Anthony, London, Dean of St. Paul’s. Sir John owned land at Baas, Broxbourne, Little Berkhamsted, and Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire and Lawford Essex. Sir John Say trained as a lawyer and became a King’s Serjeant, Coroner of the Marshalsea, Yeoman of the Chamber and Crown, Keeper of Westminster Palace, Squire of the Body and Privy Councillor.
In 1447 he entered Parliament as M.P. for Cambridge M.P. for and was then in 1449 elected Knight of the Shire for Cambridgshire when he was also, when he was also elected Speaker of the House of Commons. In June 1449 he was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and in 1449 was appointed sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk. By 1450, he was out of favor and in 1451 the Commons demanded his banishment from the court. However, he was pardoned in 1452.
From 1453 to 1478 he represented Hertfordshire in several Parliaments and was chosen to serve as speaker from 1463 to 1465 and again 1467 to 1468. In 1455 (until 1478 in three terms under Henry Bourchier, 1st Viscount Bourchier, 1st Earl of Essex he held the post of under- Treasurer of the Exchequer and from 1476 that of Keeper of the Great Wardrobe. He was made a Knight of the Bath in 1465. He died on 12 April 1478.
Harold Conrad William Soper (1881-1961) heraldic artist and designer, was born in Clapham, the son of William Soper an enameller and his wife Wilhemina. He trained as an enameller in his father’s workshop which at the turn of the century contributed to the Arts and Crafts movement with the production medieval style jewellery set with enamels and semi-precious stones. One of Harold Soper’s early productions was an enamelled copper navette shaped plaque depicting St George slaying the Dragon, painted in naturalistic colours. Following his father’s death in 1913, Soper continued on his own account operating from a set of rooms in Ebury Street, where he lived with his wife Rosalia whom he married in 1906 at St George’s, Hanover Square.
In 1922 he designed and executed a mural monument for the chapel at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge to neuro-physiologist and master of the college, Sir Hugh Kerr Anderson, Master 1912-1928. His reputation as a heraldic enameller resulted in many special commissions including plaques for the King & Queen’s chairs in Westminster Abbey & stalls in St Paul's, forty-four shields in |House of Commons and many stall plates for Garter Knights and Knights of the Bath. Post war he moved from his Clapham studio to Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire, with his daughter as his assistant.