Home and Away star Cornelia Frances, who played the legendary Morag Bellingham on the soap on and off for 30 years, has died aged 77 after a battle with cancer.

Last year, the actress was diagnosed with bladder cancer which spread to her hip.

Australia's Daily Telegraph reports that the actress died on Monday at her home in Sydney surrounded by family and friends.

Frances was born in Liverpool and emigrated to Australia in 1970. She is probably best known for her long-running role as the antagonistic lawyer Morag Bellingham in Home and Away from 1988 to 1993, which she played as a recurring role from 2001. Morag was Alf Stewart's (Ray Meagher) sister.

Cornelia Frances as the acerbic Morag Bellingham, Alf Stewart's sister, in Home and Away

The actress also appeared on soaps The Young Doctors, Prisoner: Cell Block H and Sons and Daughters and hosted the Australian version of The Weakest Link.

Frances' Home and Away co-stars have been paying tribute to her following the news of her death.

73-year-old actor Ray Meagher told the Daily Telegraph: "Cornie was an incredibly loved and valued member of our cast over many, many years.

"We had a moment of silence for her on set this morning and she’ll be sadly missed by both cast and crew."

Home and Away stars Judy Nunn, Ray Meagher and Cornelia Frances pictured in 2006

Judy Nunn, who played Alf's wife Ailsa until 2000, said she visited the actress to say their goodbyes last week. "She died with the same grace and dignity with which she lived. Cornelia was a very close friend. I loved her dearly. I will miss you Corn, we all will," she said.

Lynne McGranger, who has played Irene Roberts since 1993, said: "In a way she paved the way for women in Australian TV always playing such strong characters. My thoughts are with Lawrence and her family."

Lincoln Younes, who played Casey Braxton in the soap, paid tribute to the actress on Twitter, saying she was "always ahead of the game".

A statement from Home and Away's Australian network Seven added: "Cornelia Frances was a unique person.

"Her on-screen presence inspired a generation of actors. This gift was coupled with an ability to bring a sense of dignity and presence into each room she entered. Her energy and character will be missed."

Fans have also paid tribute to the late actress on Twitter, saying she was "a fantastic actor", "Aussie icon" and "a real classy woman".

Frances is survived by her son Lawrence.