Nicholas Hannen (actor)

Last updated

Nicholas Hannen, actor Nicholas Hannen (actor).jpg
Nicholas Hannen, actor

Nicholas James "Beau" Hannen OBE (mil) (1 May 1881 – 25 June 1972) was a British actor of the early and mid-20th century who acted in a number of stage plays and films. [1] [2]


Early life

Hannen was born on 1 May 1881 at No. 40 Westbourne Park Road, London, England. [3] He was brought up in Yokohama and Shanghai where his father, Sir Nicholas John Hannen was serving, first as Judge of the British Court for Japan (1881–1891) and then Chief Justice of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan (1891–1900) as well as Consul-General in Shanghai (1891–1897). He attended Radley College from 1895 to 1900 where he was a member of the rowing eight. [4] His uncle, James Hannen was also a noted English judge.

Sir Nicholas Hannen died, in 1900, at the young age of 58 in Shanghai just before Beau turned 19. Sir Nicholas was given a funeral with full honours including a full honour guard from the crew of HMS Hermione then in harbour in Shanghai and the pallbearers at his funeral were from the crew of the boat. [5]

Architecture apprenticeship

Athene Seyler and Nicholas Hannen in Winter Sunshine Athene Seyler and Nicholas Hannen in Winter Sunshine.png
Athene Seyler and Nicholas Hannen in Winter Sunshine

From 1902 to 1905 Beau Hannen worked in the offices of the famous architect Edwin Lutyens as an apprentice. Lutyens designed a columbarium – the Hannen Columbarium – for the Hannen family that was completed in 1907. It still stands to this day in the graveyard of St Mary's Churchyard in Wargrave. [6] In 1907 his mother, Jessie (née Woodhouse), died and her ashes as well as his father's were interred in the columbarium.

Marriages and descendants

Hannen married Muriel Morland, the daughter of the late Sir Henry and Lady Morland in 1907. [7] They had two daughters and a son. One of his daughters, Hermione Hannen, was born in 1913 and presumably named after HMS Hermione. [8] She also went on to have a successful acting career and was married twice, firstly to Anthony Quayle and later to Clifford Evans. Another daughter, Jane Hannen, also became an actress and spouse of the film producer Alexandre Mnouchkine. [9]

Peter Hannen, 1915-1916 by Glyn Philpot Portrait of Peter Hannen. 1915-1916.jpg
Peter Hannen, 1915–1916 by Glyn Philpot

His son, Peter (1908, London – 21 January 1932, London), also became an actor ( A Honeymoon Adventure (1931) and The Water Gipsies (1932)), but died at the age of 23 in 1932. [10] [11]

In 1922 Hannen met the actress Athene Seyler (1889–1990) and they started living together. His first wife refused him a divorce, so they were not able to marry until 1960, after his first wife had died. Seyler, however, had changed her name by deed poll to Hannen in 1928. [12]

Service in the First World War

Hannen was commissioned into the Army Service Corps in 1915 and during his wartime service was mentioned in despatches and awarded an OBE in the 1919 Birthday Honours for valuable service rendered in connection with military operations in France. [13]

Acting career

Advertisement for the Seyler Hannen Company Hannen Seyler company WA 11 July 1933.png
Advertisement for the Seyler Hannen Company

In 1910 Hansen became a professional actor.

He appeared in close to 50 stage plays in London, including Henry VIII and The Importance of Being Earnest as well as 'Arms and the Man, at the New Theatre in St. Martins Lane. In this production, for the Old Vic Company, he played Major Paul Petkov, in a cast which included Margaret Leighton, Sybil Thorndyke, Ralph Richardson, Joyce Redman and Lawrence Olivier. [14]

Hannen performed in at least 26 films between 1931 and 1960, including Richard III as the Archbishop and Henry V as the Duke of Exeter. [2]

In 1933, Hannen and Seyler took a company, which included Hermione Hannen, on a well-received tour of Australia. [15]


Hannen died on 25 June 1972 in London and his ashes were interred in the Hannen Columbarium in St Mary's Churchyard, Wargrave. Upon her death, Athene Hannen's ashes were also interred in the columbarium. [16]

Partial filmography

Related Research Articles

Edwin Lutyens British architect

Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens was an English architect known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. He designed many English country houses, war memorials and public buildings. In his biography, the writer Christopher Hussey wrote, "In his lifetime (Lutyens) was widely held to be our greatest architect since Wren if not, as many maintained, his superior". The architectural historian Gavin Stamp described him as "surely the greatest British architect of the twentieth century".

Ferncliff Cemetery

Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum is located at 280 Secor Road in the hamlet of Hartsdale, town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, United States, about 25 miles (40 km) north of Midtown Manhattan. It was founded in 1902, and is non-sectarian. Ferncliff has three community mausoleums including columbariums, a crematory, a small chapel, and a main office located in the rear of the main building.

Athene Seyler English actress

Athene Seyler, CBE was an English actress.

C. Aubrey Smith English cricketer and actor

Sir Charles Aubrey Smith, CBE was an English Test cricketer who became a stage and film actor, acquiring a niche as the officer-and-gentleman type, as in the first sound version of The Prisoner of Zenda (1937). In Hollywood, he organised British actors into a cricket team, much intriguing local spectators.

Hermione Hannen

Hermione Hannen was an English theatre and film actress. She was born in London, the daughter of Nicholas "Beau" Hannen, who was also an actor on the stage and in film.

James Hannen, Baron Hannen English judge and vegetarian

James Hannen, Baron Hannen, PC, FRS was an English judge and vegetarian.

Wargrave Human settlement in England

Wargrave is a large, historic village and civil parish in Berkshire, England. The village is primarily on the River Thames but also along the confluence of the River Loddon and lies on the border with southern Oxfordshire. Wargrave is situated in the A321 road 7 miles (11 km) from both Maidenhead and Reading and 3 miles (4.8 km) from Henley-on-Thames. The village is larger than the county average, having a railway station on the Henley Branch Line, off the Great Western main line from London Paddington; the village is quickly accessible to nearby parts of the M4 corridor, particularly Berkshire and Heathrow Airport and local major centres of employment include Reading and Maidenhead, with smaller businesses and additional commercial facilities in nearby Henley-on-Thames and Wokingham. The village has many old listed buildings, two marinas with chandlery services for boats, a rowing club and rises steeply to the northwest in the direction of Bowsey Hill, with higher parts of the village generally known as Upper Wargrave. In Upper Wargrave is a Recreation Ground with a cricket club, bowls club, football pitch and tennis club.

HMS <i>Hermione</i> (1893)

HMS Hermione was an Astraea-class protected cruiser launched at Devonport in 1893. She served in World War I and was sold in 1921. She was renamed training ship Warspite in 1922, and broken up in 1940.

George Benson (actor)

George Frederick Percy Benson was a British actor of both theatre and screen, whose career stretched from the 1930s to the early 1970s. He was on stage from the late 1920s, and made his film debut in 1932 in Holiday Lovers written by Leslie Arliss. His most notable work as a comic actor included supporting roles with George Formby and Ronnie Barker.

Michael Shepley British actor

Arthur Michael Shepley-Smith, known professionally as Michael Shepley, was a British actor, appearing in theatre, film and some television between 1929 and 1961.

Sam Livesey British actor (1873-1936)

Samuel Livesey was a Welsh stage and film actor.

Nicholas John Hannen

Sir Nicholas John Hannen was a British barrister, diplomat and judge who served in China and Japan. He was the Chief Justice of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan from 1891 to 1900 and also served concurrently as Consul-General in Shanghai from 1891 to 1897. He was judge of the British Court for Japan from 1881 to 1891. He was the brother of James Hannen, a noted British judge of the 19th century. His son, Nicholas "Beau" Hannen was a famous actor of the early and mid-20th century.

Nicholas Hannen may refer to:

Hannen is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

The Last Enemy is a 1929 play by actor-writer Frank Harvey. It was initially produced by Tom Walls and ran for 12 weeks. Laurence Olivier was in the cast.

The British Court for Japan was a court established in Yokohama in 1879 to try cases against British subjects in Japan, under the principles of extraterritoriality. The court also heard appeals from British consular courts in Japan. Appeals from the British Court for Japan lay to the British Supreme Court for China and Japan based in the Shanghai International Settlement.

Charlotte Francis was an English actress best known for playing the lead role in the Australian film The Silence of Dean Maitland (1934) in which she appeared opposite her husband John Longden. She was touring Australia in a company led by Athene Seyler and Nicholas Hannen for J.C. Williamsons in 1933 when cast in the role. She also had extensive stage credits. Her British stage name was Jean Jay.

Richard Rennie

Sir Richard Temple Rennie was a British barrister and judge who served in China and Japan. He was the Chief Justice of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan from 1881 to 1891. He was judge of the British Court for Japan from its creation in 1879 to 1881.

Hannen Columbarium

The Hannen Columbarium is a columbarium mausoleum – a resting place for the cremated remains of the deceased – built for the Hannen family of Wargrave, Berkshire, England and designed by Edwin Lutyens.

Wargrave War Memorial

Wargrave War Memorial is First World War memorial in the village of Wargrave in Berkshire, south-eastern England. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the memorial was unveiled in 1922 and is today a grade II listed building.


  1. "Nicholas Hannen – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB".
  2. 1 2 "Nicholas Hannen". BFI.
  3. North China Herald, 17 June 1881, front page.
  4. "Register, 1847-1962 - 166.jpg – Radley College Archives".
  5. North China Herald, 2 May 1900 p785
  6. Lutyens and the Great War, Tim Skelton and Others, p81
  7. North China Herald, 8 November 1907, p327
  8. "Hermione Hannen (1913–1983) – Find A Grave Memorial".[ non-primary source needed ]
  9. Dickson, Andrew (10 August 2012). "Ariane Mnouchkine and the Théâtre du Soleil: a life in theatre". The Guardian.
  10. "The_Radleian_No.521_February_1932_0003.jpg – Radley College Archives".
  11. Peter Hannen, biography
  13. Sydney Morning Herald, 6 May 1933, p8
  14. "".
  15. "The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) – 6 May 1933 – p8". Trove.
  16. St Mary's Church, Wargrave, record of burials; records for Nicholas Hannen and Athene Seyler