Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel was born in Cambridge, the son of Harry Chester Goodhart, a classics don, and Rose Ellen Rendel. After the death of his father in Edinburgh in 1895, he and Rose Rendel moved south and leased Chinthurst Hill, Wonersh, in 1899. He assumed the Rendel name in 1902 at his grandfather Stuart Rendel’s request (the first and last Lord Rendel, created Baron Rendel of Hatchlands in 1894).
After a degree in music, Harry Goodhart-Rendel began architectural practice in 1909. He went on to become president of the Architectural Association (1924-1925), Slade Professor of Fine Art, Oxford (1933-1936), president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1937-1939), director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture (1936-1938), and president of the Design and Industries Association (1948-1950). He has been described as having ‘the most complete and detailed knowledge of English 19th century architecture of anyone of his time’ (Dictionary of National Biography): he was a popular lecturer on architecture, and his annotated card index of English churches is now held by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
His earliest architectural works, 1909-1914, included cottages at East and West Clandon, West Horsley, Shalford Common and Englefield Green (The Pantiles); and also the remodelling of Bagshot Park.
His papers, held at Surrey History Centre, include papers relating to his projects to develop his Valescure estate in France, and his interest in housing in East Clandon and the Horsleys (see, for example, notes on the ‘East and West Horsley New Town Development Scheme’ and his involvement in the St Thomas Housing Society Ltd). However, the records chiefly relate to his management and development of the property in the Rendel Estates Trust. The estates passed to him as a principal beneficiary, on the death of Lord Rendel (1913), by his will of 24 May 1913. They chiefly comprised Hatchlands, purchased by Lord Rendel in c.1888, land in Brighton (Kemp Town), Sussex, homes in London, and property at Valescure and the Chateau de Thorenc in Cannes in the south of France.
Hatchlands was sold to the National Trust, after some years of negotiation, in 1944, with provision for a 99 year lease. Hatchlands became the site of the Rendel Estate office between 1943 and September 1953 (it had previously been based in 19 Chesham Road, Brighton, and returned there in 1953). Harry Goodhart-Rendel would deprecatingly claim in 1956 that he had spent the majority of his time at Hatchlands in his drawing office, but he clearly made an effort to become involved in local Surrey affairs, for example, acting as chairman of East Clandon Parish Council, 1946-c.1956. However, career commitments and other interests such as the directorship of the Royal Academy of Music (from 1953) and governorship of Sadlers Wells (from 1934), meant that he spent less and less time in Surrey.
His possessions at Hatchlands were being sold, given away or transferred to his London homes from c.1947, and he finally terminated his tenancy of the property in December 1956. He died in London on 21 June 1959, and was buried on the site of Prinknash Abbey, Gloucestershire, the architectural project he was working on before his death (although his designs were not used).