Thomas Britton (1644-1714), Known as 'The musical small-coal man'
Sitter in 8 portraits
A successful small-coal (charcoal) merchant in Clerkenwell, in 1678 Britton established the weekly concert series for which he is chiefly remembered. The concert series ran for thirty-six years and was the longest-lasting in the late seventeenth century. It was patronised by many in high society, and had some of the greatest performers of the day taking part. Britton converted the loft over his coal house in Clerkenwell into a music room complete with many instruments, including a harpsichord and a tiny organ, on which George Frideric Handel was said to have played. Britton also interested himself in chemistry and the occult sciences; he formed a large collection of books relating to these subjects.