According to The Oxford Companion to Music
, Thomas Britton was the organiser of the second series of public concerts followings those of John Bannister. Starting in 1678, the gatherings took place weekly for thirty-six years. Britton was a man of humble origin and occupation, a self-taught musician and scholar who enjoyed the friendship of the most cultured people in the London of his day, including many of the nobility. His business was that of hawking charcoal, which he carried about the streets with a sack on his back. Over his coal house in Clerkenwell he had a loft which he converted into a music room, complete with the necessary musical apparatus, including a tiny organ of five stops, on which George F. Handel
was wont to play for him, and a Ruckers virginal, thought by some to be the best in Europe, at which often sat the great Dr. Johann C. Pepusch
. At first admission was free, but afterwards Britton imposed a subscription price of ten shillings a year; he supplied coffee at one penny a cup.
The loft was small, and the contemporary humorist, Ned Ward, reports that "anybody that is willing to take a hearty Sweat may have the Pleasure of hearing many notable performers in the charming Science of Musick".