National Trust chiefs are asking auction houses and buyers to be on the lookout for an antique sundial which has been stolen from the grounds of Blickling Hall.

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Calculating thieves, equipped with some sort of trolley, crossed two fields, a hidden “ha-ha” ditch, negotiated an electric fence and found their way through to the secret garden of the stately home, near Aylsham.

There, they lifted and made off with the sundial which is mounted on carved Portland stone and stands 113cms high.

Jo Bosch, Blickling’s marketing and visitor manager, said the bronze sundial dated from the late 18th or early 19th century and had a metal plate on it which said “Brookbrae Ltd, London”.

The theft happened between 10am on February 6 and 10.15am on February 7.

At about the same time someone tried to break into the 18th century Orangery building which is also in the grounds of Blickling Hall, making off with a bronze doorknob.

Ms Bosch said the Orangery was a popular venue for summer weddings. She added: “It’s sad, not because these things have a particularly high value but because people are stealing from the nation.”

■ Anyone with information should contact PC Robert Devlin at Aylsham police station on 101.

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