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Items taken include an Apollo clock c.1803. One of only five clocks of this model known, it is an Empire mantel clock in red griotte marble, 2ft 7in x 20 x 7 1/2in (78 x 51 x 19cm), with patinated bronze and ormolu enrichments, it is flanked by a bronze figure of Apollo holding a lyre and flambeau. The movement is by Charles-Guillaume Manière (master 1778, d.1810), and the enamel dial is signed Manière à Paris.

Also stolen was a 23 1/2in (60cm) high pair of first Empire Medicis vases with griffin-head handles. Decorated with gold ground, they show painted panels in grisaille illustrating scenes from the life of Tippoo Sahib, Sultan of Mysore (1749-99).

Another pair of Sèvres vases was also taken. Each vase is 16 1/2in (42cm) high and of classical form with ormolu mounts and lions’ mask handles, c.1780. With Bleu Royale ground, they are decorated in gold with painted panels, one showing Danae after Correggio, the other the Venus of Urbino after Titian. The reverse panels are decorated with garlands of flowers on a gold ground.

The thieves added other treasures to their haul, including a highly decorated and inlaid tortoiseshell boulle casket, 12 x 8 1/2 x 5in (31 x 22 x 13cm), whose lid rises to reveal a removable ebony and ormolu standish, and a highly decorated tortoiseshell and brass inlaid inkstand with ormolu mounts, 14 3/4 x 10 1/2in (37.5 x 26.7cm).

Investigating officer DC Alan Pack of Sussex Police said: “The burglary appears to have been well planned but we won’t be disclosing how the offenders entered the property.

“The National Trust are reluctant to value the items as they may be irreplaceable and literally priceless.”

If anyone has any information on the burglary or indeed any details on where the stolen items are, they should contact DC Pack at Chichester CID on 0845 60 70 999, or if they wish to remain anonymous Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.