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The county town of Surrey has been appreciated for many years as one of the finest towns in the Home Counties. It stands where a ford crossed the river Wey in ancient times and was an important stop on the Pilgrim's Way. During the Middle Ages the town became a centre of dyeing and finishing cloth. Guildford's prosperity continued when the Wey, one of the earliest canalised rivers in England, was opened to navigation in 1653 and connected Guildford to London and the Thames.