Ruth Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE
17 February 1930 – 2 May 2015
Ruth Rendell was a wonderfully enthusiastic friend and supporter to Handel House. She loved the building itself which she would often describe as a “sanctuary.” Moreover she loved Handel’s music and listened to it everyday.
As a member of our Development Committee, Ruth was at the forefront of helping us raise money to sustain the house and her contributions to the cause went very much further than giving donations directly herself, which she also did annually and generously. As the Baroness Rendell of Babergh, she hosted many events for other Handel House supporters at the Palace of Westminster, including a private dinner, a number of concerts in St Mary’s Undercroft and receptions in the Cholmondeley Room overlooking the river. All of these were memorable occasions and Ruth was the most generous of hosts.
Two of her contributions to Handel House were particularly notable. One was in Handel’s 250th anniversary year, 2009, when she very kindly opened our exhibition called Handel Reveal’d that had been curated by Christopher Hogwood. Ruth agreed to attend the press preview and dealt with the gathered journalists with aplomb. She also agreed to a photo shoot of her holding one of the key exhibits, a life mask of Handel. Seven or eight photographers jostled behind the demarked area to get their shots in Handel’s small bedroom, impatiently calling her name to attract her attention. After some time, whilst taking great care with the object and noting our failing efforts to bring the clamouring session to a close, Ruth announced to them all politely but firmly that, “enough was enough.” The paparazzi immediately and obediently put their cameras away and left the building. The picture made the broadsheets and tabloids alike.
The other particularly notable contribution was a remarkable event in 2013 when Ruth arranged for PD James to join her in a “conversation” to raise money for Handel House. Ruth instigated the event and helped with the plans, and both authors voluntarily gave their time. It was the last time they spoke together on a public platform and anyone at Bridgewater House in St James’s that evening will never forget it.
Staff, board members and all of us at Handel House were honoured to have had her involvement and it was a privilege to know this delightful, impressive lady and benefit from her unfailing support. She will be much missed.
Sarah Bardwell (Director) and Alistair Stranack (Chairman)