Enchanting with numbers: the computing countess of Kirkby Mallory

Published Thursday, 12 September 2019

A MAJOR NEW EXHIBITION to honour the first computer programmer is taking place at Hinckley’s Atkins Building this October.

The month long free-to-enter exhibition titled ‘Enchanting with numbers: Ada Lovelace, the computing countess of Kirkby Mallory’ tells the story of Ada Lovelace’s life, explains the importance of her work with inventor Charles Babbage and demonstrates how her work relates to today’s technology. 

The exhibition, which is on display from Thursday 3 October to Wednesday 30 October and coincides with International Ada Lovelace Day on Tuesday 8 October, combines portraits and images being brought together for the first time in one place with talks that will bring to life the relevance of Ada’s legacy for our younger and future generations.

Lord Byron’s daughter, Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) grew up in Kirkby Hall in Kirkby Mallory, where her forward-thinking mother encouraged her to develop a love of science and mathematics before going on to work with Charles Babbage.

It is widely accepted that it was Ada who first realised the full future potential of Babbage’s basic computing machine, envisaging a day when people could program such an ‘analytical engine’ to answer much more complex questions than the sums they were being set in the 19th century.

Ada’s story is told through reproductions of portraits held at Downing Street and the National Portrait Gallery with copies of manuscripts, newspaper reports and images.

Volunteers from Hinckley & District Museum will be on hand to share their knowledge of the local hero and talks can be organised for groups.

To inspire future generations of scientists and mathematicians, children will have the opportunity to draw, to build Lego inspired by Ada and the computer as well as enjoy quiz and word search activities. For older children, there will be two coding sessions run in association with the exhibition. For details please see the events guide on Atkins Building's website

Schools are welcome to visit with talks about Ada on offer as well as a limited number of STEM activity sessions being provided by Horiba MIRA.

Heritage Champion at Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council, Cllr Paul Williams said:

The exhibit builds on the work of a number of local historians and Ada enthusiasts and heritage consultants. It promises to be a stunning and professional presentation of Ada's life and her claim to be a computing pioneer.

Who was Ada Lovelace? Why is she so important? And how has she become a worldwide icon for young women?

All these questions and more are answered in this great exhibition bringing together material never before seen in the same place. 

To understand this remarkable and great woman from Kirkby Mallory, you need to visit.

Greg Drozdz, Vice Chairman of Hinckley and District Museum added: 

Ada Lovelace is fast becoming an internationally recognised icon the world over. We here in Hinckley and Bosworth need to understand this fascinating character so that we can tell the world how proud we are of her. The exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to find out all there is to know about Ada. I would encourage everyone to make the most of this opportunity.

• Entry to the exhibition in the Atkins Building on Lower Bond Street, Hinckley (LE10 1QU) is free. The exhibition is open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm.