John Counsell (theatre director)

John William Counsell OBE[1] (24 April 1905–23 February 1987)[2][3] was an English actor, director and theatre manager, who (with his wife Mary Kerridge) ran the Theatre Royal, Windsor and its in-house repertory company from the 1930s to the 1980s. His daughter is the actress Elizabeth Counsell, and he was uncle to the actress and painter Jean Miller.[4] Born in Beckenham, to Claud Counsell and Evelyn Fleming, the bulk of Counsell's career was spent in Windsor repertory theatre and the West End stage.

John Counsell
John Counsell Portrait.jpg
John Counsell
Died23 February 1987
United Kingdom
OccupationTheatre director, actor, theatre manager
Spouse(s)Mary Kerridge
ChildrenElizabeth Counsell, actor, Jenny Counsell, twin


World War 2Edit

He was the author of the German Instrument of Surrender document signed on 7 May 1945 which he wrote when he served as a colonel in the British Army during World War 2.[7]

Theatre managementEdit

In 1930 Counsell served as an apprentice at the Theatre Royal in Windsor, Berkshire, when it reopened as a theatre after a short time as a cinema. In 1933 he took over managing the theatre; the venture lasted only a few months before it went bankrupt, but the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II attended one of the last performances, coming from nearby Windsor Castle.[8]:74 Counsell re-opened the theatre in 1938[9] and was able to establish a viable company that ran without government subsidies.[8]:74, 115 He and his actress wife Mary Kerridge ran the theatre until his retirement in 1986, the year before his death.[10]

John William Counsell was awarded the OBE in 1975 for services to The Theatre Royal in Windsor.[1]


  1. ^ a b Award of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) to John William Counsell - Supplement to The London Gazette 1 January 1975
  2. ^ Birth of John William Counsell in the England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 - (subscription required)
  3. ^ Obituary for John Counsell - The Times 25 February 1987 - Archive of the National Library of Australia
  4. ^ Theatre Archive Project, British Library. Jean Miller – interview transcript Interviewer: Emily Blakey. 14 May 2008
  5. ^ Jean Miller obituary: Telegraph
  6. ^ Eric Shorter. "Mary Kerridge". the Guardian.
  7. ^ "VE day: 'Our dad wrote the peace document'". BBC News. 4 May 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ a b Rowell, G, et al. The Repertory Movement: A History of Regional Theatre in Britain. Cambridge University Press, 1984 ISBN 9780521319195
  9. ^ Douglas Mayo for 22 December 2014 Weekly Rep Returns To Theatre Royal Windsor
  10. ^ "Obituary: Mary Kerridge". The Independent.

Further readingEdit

  • Counsell, John. "So Who Needs Subsidy, Anyway?", Scottish Theatre, Inverkeithing, Scottish Theatre, Vol.2 No.3, pp. 6–8 (May 1970)

External linksEdit