Happy Birthday, Ada Lovelace! Celebrations at Newstead Abbey mark birth of iconic mathematician 200 years ago

Leader of Ashfield District Council, Councillor Cheryl Butler, ponders over some fiendish maths puzzles using a calculator. Ada Lovelace's work inspired the invention of the calculator.
Leader of Ashfield District Council, Councillor Cheryl Butler, ponders over some fiendish maths puzzles using a calculator. Ada Lovelace's work inspired the invention of the calculator.

A worldwide celebration of acclaimed scientist Ada Lovelace based at her ancestral home Newstead Abbey will mark the 200th anniversary of her birth.

The Amateur Radio Special Event Station will be broadcasting from the abbey in the café courtyard until this Sunday and amateur radio enthusiasts will also have the chance to get involved.

The event, organised by the Phoenix Radio Group in partnership with the Youth Hostels Amateur Radio Group, will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ada Lovelace on December 10, 1815.

A special downloadable certificate will be available to everyone who makes contact with the Special Event Station, call number GB200AD.

Councillor Dave Trimble, portfolio holder for leisure and culture at Nottingham City Council, said: “We wish Phoenix Radio Group and YHARG every success with this novel celebration.

“This is a very fitting way to remember the life of such an important historical figure. I look forward to seeing a flurry of worldwide activity this week.”

Ada Lovelace - the only legitimate child of Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Milbanke, Baroness Wentworth, was a mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer - the Analytical Engine.

Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine.

She is often regarded as the first computer programmer and in 1847, and also correctly predicted that the use of algorithms and computers would have wider applications in science in the future.

In celebration of Ada’s birthday, the catering team at Heather Sissons of St Mary Magdalene Church’s in Hucknall, where Ada is laid to rest, have even baked a cake in her honour.

David Heathcote, a heritage guide with Hucknall Tourism and Regeneration Group, gave a talk at the church on Ada’s life on December10.

He said: “It is fitting that the icing has been designed on a computer, and then digitally printed.

“Most people know Ada as the daughter of the poet, Lord Byron, and both are interred in the church, side by side.

“But Ada is also regarded by many experts as the first computer programmer - decades before electronic computers were invente. She was brought up by her mother to be as different from her artistic father as possible.

“Ada was introduced to a ‘mad scientist’ inventor who was designing a mechanical computer in the Victorian era. She liked his ideas but decided to improve on them a little.

“It’s an honour to tell Ada’s story in the very church where her mortal remains have been laid to rest,” added David.

Lovelace was born in London, the only legitimate child of Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Milbanke, Baroness Wentworth. Byron separated from his wife a month after Ada was born and left England four months later, dying of disease in Greece when Ada was eight years old.

When she was seventeen, Ada’s tutor Auguste De Morgan suggested that her skill in mathematics could lead her to become “an original mathematical investigator, perhaps of first-rate eminence.”

Ada’s mother remained bitter towards Lord Byron and promoted Ada’s interest in mathematics and logic in an effort to prevent her from developing what she saw as the insanity seen in her father, but Ada remained interested in him and was buried, at her request, next to him after she died age 36.