Writing to Benjamin Disraeli on 27 December 1869, Charles John Ellicott, then six years into his long episcopate at Gloucester, bemoaned ‘I know, as a man of business myself, how scant is the time for letters’.2 We can, despite this disclaimer, be grateful that Ellicott proved to be a tireless and inveterate correspondent, and the letters that he wrote, especially those to Disraeli and Gladstone, often passionate and frank to the point of being indiscreet, combined with a veritable stream of published works, throw a great deal of light on the leadership of the Established Church of England, its thinking and its policies in the middle years of Victoria’s reign.3