A self-confessed 'London Girl', Irayne's career as a pig and cattle farmer was something of a departure from the lifestyle she grew up with. However, in 2005 the opportunity arose for her and her husband to invest in a rather run down manor house, along with the farmhouse and farm land adjoining it, and this unexpected transition was well and truly under way.
Neither Irayne nor her husband knew anything at all about farming and, at this stage, were more interested in country walks and taking regular breaks from the frantic pace of city life than in setting up a fully functioning farm. This began to change when they met Barry, a local farmer, who had tenanted some of the Todenham Manor Farm land for his sheep for several years and was hoping for this to continue under the new ownership. Only too happy to have their 'rural idyll' accessorised with sheep and spring lambs, the couple agreed.
And that's how it all began, with Barry and some sheep. He and Irayne's husband then decided to add cattle to the farm and before long a handsome herd of pedigree South Devons were happily munching the grass in the field opposite the house. Having seen how well the cattle did on the farm, Irayne then decided to introduce some rare breed pigs and have a go at producing a good, honest and delicious sausages (made without the 'nasties' that give sausages a bad name).
Armed only with this vision and a drove of Saddleback, Gloucester Old Spot and Middle White pigs that were happily installed on the farm, she started to do some research. This started with a visit to the local abattoir (just three miles away from the farm) to learn more about the process that the animals would go through. Content that the abattoir offered the kind of humane treatment she wanted for her animals, progress ground to a halt when it came to finding somewhere to butcher the carcasses. Keen to keep maintain control of this process and to keep it as near to home as possible, Irayne felt that the best solution would be to establish a cutting room on the farm. Her structural engineer husband agreed and the Todenham Manor Farm Butchery started to take shape.
From the early days formulating the first sausage recipes, researching the merits of various sausage casings, agonising over whether to use rusk or breadcrumbs and sourcing and hand-grinding the freshest spices, Irayne has remained integral to Todenham Manor Farm butchery. She personally taste-tests all new recipes, is on first name terms with all our stockists and is always involved in the local events we attend. Passionately committed to the welfare of the animals and the quality of the product, she is the driving force behind the Todenham success story.
" I love what I'm doing in Todenham, although I am still a 'London girl' in lots of ways and quite happy with that. I have two quite different lives and I really enjoy the "city" part of my life. But I've discovered that this "other life" making sausages and producing and supplying the most amazing meat gives me a pleasure I never thought would happen to me."
A 3rd generation farmer in his family's business Barry is the man without whom none of this would be possible. His firm belief in both traditional farming methods and the respect and welfare of the animals being of paramount importance enables us to produce the most tender and delicious meat.
Born in Dublin and trained as a chef in County Cork, butchery manager Diarmuid (pronounced Deer-mid) moved to the UK in 2005. Starting his Cotswold career as the sous chef in the Chequers in Churchill, he went on to work at Daylesford Organic and then to run the kitchen at the Burford Garden Company cafe. Whether in Ireland, the Cotswolds or further afield in Australia and New Zealand, his time as a chef was defined by an enthusiasm for cooking the best quality local and seasonal produce he could find.
Having discovered (and regularly served) Todenham pork and beef during his time at Burford, Diarmuid was keen to bring a chef's perspective to managing the butchery when the opportunity arose in 2014. He is now committed to developing the business in without compromising the quality of the produce or the bespoke service that sets Todenham Manor Farm apart from its competitors.