Two historic visitors' books which included the signatures of members of the Royal Family including Queen Victoria and King George V have been stolen.

Hampshire Police are appealing for information to help trace the books which date back to the 1800s and which were stolen from the Royal Maritime Club in Queen Street, Portsmouth, between October 17 and 22.

Pc Dan McGarrigle said: ''These books are extremely rare, they have a high sentimental and historic value to the Royal Maritime Club. It is possible that these books would have been offered to a collector.

''We've pursued several other lines of inquiry over the past fortnight and are now in a position to release details with a wider appeal for more information.''

The Maritime Club was established in 1851 as the Sailors' Home to provide support and comforts to sailors returning from sea.

It gained its royal prefix in 1855 after it was visited by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria became its patron.

Now a hotel, it has since been visited by the current Queen, who was patron until 2007 when the Prince of Wales took over the position.