[The letter below is from Henry Whitehead to Hardwicke.  It is published in Hardwicke’s biography of Whitehead.]

Dear Rawnsley—I hope you may be able to preside on New Year’s Eve at the bell-ringers’ supper which you mention in your letter.  I look forward to being similarly engaged here on New Year’s Eve, as the ringers come to the vicarage to supper before the late service, which begins at 11 p.m.  After service, which concludes at 12, they ring the New Year in. (p. 111)

You know that I take a great interest in bells, and belfries, and bell-ringers.  The Crosthwaite bells I had the good fortune to hear one evening last week, and thought them very good.  I believe it is an article of faith in Crosthwaite to consider them the best in Cumberland.  There was never yet a peal of bells that was not regarded by the inhabitants of the parish to which they belonged as the best anywhere known.  Brampton people think our bells the best in the world, though the treble is too sharp.  For my own part I do not think the Brampton bells as good as either Crosthwaite or Penrith, which of the two latter peals is the best I do not undertake to say.  But I may say this, that Crosthwaite folk must give over saying that they have the pick of three peals intended for Crosthwaite, Penrith, and Cockermouth; on which subject see the report of my lecture at Penrith in the Penrith Observer of last Thursday (December 25). (p. 111)

Only the first half of my lecture is reported.  Towards the end I told the Penrith people that, whatever doubt there might be as to which of the two peals of bells was the better, there was no manner of doubt as to which belfry was in the better order.  The Penrith belfry is in a very bad condition.  All the bells need to be re-hung.  And the ringing gallery is ridiculous, so erected that the ropes must all fall in a line instead of in a circle.  The Crosthwaite belfry, on the contrary, seems in first-rate order.  This I know because I not only heard the bells but saw them.  The only thing I feel sorry for concerning the bells is that Nos. 1, 5, 7, and 8 are not from the same foundry as the original peal, not that I have any fault to find with the new bells, which are excellent.  They are from the Cripplegate Foundry, which has a very good name.  But there could have been no possible reason for not calling in the Whitechapel founders to recast bells which came from their foundry, or to add to their number. (pp. 111-112)

I should have been glad to have had an opportunity of seeing the ringers.  But if I did not see the present ringers, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of an old ringer, Mr. Geo Holmes, and was much interested in his conversation.  He told me of the peals they used to ring in his time.  Whether the Crosthwaite ringers can ring the same peals now I don’t know.  But if they can it is more than can be said of any other Cumberland ringers as yet known to me. (p. 112)

Now you do say something about an association that is to be formed.  Do you mean a diocesan association?  That is what is wanted.  But as a preliminary step to its formation the Cathedral bells should be set going again.  At present there is not a single wheel among the lot, and the tradition is that they have not been rung since 1745.  The Chapter, I believe, say that to ring the bells would injure the tower, which I don’t believe.  Towers are only injured by bells when the cage is ‘made steady’ by wedges driven in between it and the wall of the belfry.  I did not find that such was the case at Crosthwaite, but it is the case at St. Stephen’s (Carlisle), and the consequence is that though the church is a new one, the tower is already cracked. (pp. 112-113)

But to return to the projected association.  If you wish to be a pioneer in this matter you can get up a local association in your part of the county.  It should engage an experienced teacher.  And when the Crosthwaite ringers undertake their first 5040 peal of Stedman’s triples I hope they will invite me to hear it, that I may have the pleasure of being present at the supper which, as the reporters say, will ‘terminate the proceedings.’ (p. 113)

Wishing you and the Crosthwaite ringers a Happy New Year when it comes,—I remain, yours truly,
                                                                                                       H. Whitehead

(Henry Whitehead 1825-1896: A Memorial Sketch)