Obituary: Stephen G Rees-Jones (1941-2024)

IIC Council, 1990s:  Back Row: David Bomford, Andrew Oddy, Rafaeella Rossi-Manaresi, Colin Pearson, Jane McAusland, Liliane Masschelein-Kleiner, David Drown, David Leigh, Prof Teddy Hall;  Front row, seated: Stephen G Rees-Jones (Treasurer), Henry W M Hodges (Secretary- General, Agnes Grafin Ballestrem (President), Perry Smith (Executive Secretary). Image courtesy of David Leigh and the IIC.

Tribute written by Sarah Staniforth ( and Julie Rees-Jones Rayfield (

Stephen G Rees-Jones died peacefully at home on January 14, 2024. Stephen was awarded a Diploma in Archaeological Conservation at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, London, in 1960. He went on to become the Conservation Officer at Ulster Museum/Queens University Conservation Laboratory, Belfast, from 1961-71. During this time, he wrote articles for the Ulster Journal of Archaeology on excavations at Harry Averys Castle, County Tyrone, and Sheeplands Mor near Chapeltown, County Down, and a paper for Studies in Conservation (1963) on “A simple Vacuum Impregnation Tank for Pottery and Other Objects.” He was Field Conservation Officer for the University of Pennsylvania, Mohenjo Daro Expedition in West Pakistan (1964-65).

Stephen was appointed Keeper of Conservation at the City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham from 1971 to 1978. During this period, he wrote again articles for Studies in Conservation, this time on conservation of iron objects from the sea, a Florentine terracotta relief, and conservation equipment such as a new easel for picture restoration. He followed in his father’s (Professor Stephen Rees Jones) footsteps as Director of the Technology Department, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 1978-1990. While at the Courtauld, he published an article on early experiments in pigment conservation, and he was an editor of the Conservation and Museology Series by Butterworth Scientific (1982-1990)

Stephen was a Fellow of IIC and served for a record number of years as Treasurer from 1974 to 2001. During his career he held membership in the Crafts Advisory Council Conservation Committee (1974-76), the steering-committee for the British Archaeology Institution (1974-75), the West Midlands Area Archaeology Advisory Committee (1975-78), the Paintings on Canvas and Wood sub-committee for the Council for the Care of Churches, the “Mary Rose” advisory panel (1980-84), and the Board of Studies for the Textile Conservation Center.

In retirement his membership in the Dorset Natural History and Archaeology Society extended his interest in archaeology, and he spent significant time involved in major DIY projects, putting his practical and problem-solving skills to good use. Stephen is survived by his wife Adrienne and four children: Julie, Nuala, Stephen, and Anja; as well as four grandchildren—Alanna, Emil, Bronwen, and Evan. Gifts in his memory can be directed to the Dorset Museum and Art Gallery.


Reprinted in part from the Global Conservation Forum (ConsDistList) - Jan 25, 2024, with additions by Julie Rayfield. See the tribute in the April-May 2024 "News in Conservation" Issue 101, p. 34-35