Bell officially joined the royal court in 1736 when she was appointed the position of Lady of the Bedchamber for Princess Amelia and quickly became a close friend and confidante. Princess Amelia was often conceited and spoke without much consideration of the feelings of others but Lady Bell’s wit and firmness brought balance to the Princess’s character flaws. Bell’s ability to handle delicate conversations helped her smooth over situations in which the Princess often “ruffled feathers” (Chalus). The Princess grew attached to Lady Bell and soon allowed Bell to act as her social and personal secretary and gave Lady Bell permission to manage her royal business and accounts.
Lady Bell clearly took her position seriously and unlike most female courtiers, she remained unmarried and longed to be financial independent. Her wish was granted in 1742 when she received a £400 pound pension on the Irish establishment. In order to secure her financial stability, she set herself up in London in a gorgeous Georgian style townhouse, 44 Berkeley Square. William Kent built the house for her from 1742 to 1744 and it stands as his only surviving townhouse. The house is described as, “classical in conception, baroque in decoration, [and] theatrical in effect” (Kinross, 6). Lady Bell’s spinster status allowed Kent to experiment with proportions without worrying about building excess bedrooms or boudoirs. Lady Bell’s natural affability and gregarious nature ensured the townhouse constantly welcomed visitors. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu visited often as well as Horace Walpole, who commented on 5 June 1764 to Hon. H. S. Conway, “We had a funereal loo last night in the great chamber at Lady Bell Finch's; the Duke, Princess Emily, and the Duchess of Bedford were there” (“Lady Isabella Finch”). The duke and duchess of Newcastle are also listed amongst her many callers and Princess Amelia even cared to visit.
|Outside view of 44 Berkeley Square|
For many, a position at court was often a temporary position that would lead them to either a higher position or a marriage to a quality suitor. Lady Bell, however, turned her appointment into almost a profession. Instead of seeking a husband, she sought to live her life on her terms and did so successfully until her death on 1 March 1771. For five years after her passing, 44 Berkeley Square remained empty until the earl of Clermont decided to take the property, which then became known as the Clermont House.
Chalus, E. H.. “Finch, Lady (Cecilia) Isabella (1700–1771).” E. H. Chalus In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman, January 2008. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/68377 (accessed May 29, 2015).
Hutton, Sarah, "Lady Anne Conway", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/conway/>.
Kinross, Lord. 1962. 44 Berkeley Square. Ebook. 1st ed. London. http://fortescue.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/44-Berkeley-Square.pdf.
Londononline.co.uk,. 2015. 'Lady Isabella Finch - Berkeley Square'. http://www.londononline.co.uk/features/berkeley_square/24/.