313-315 Lower High Street was originally numbered 181 and 182 High Street. In 1870 Nicholas Lelean was in business at the premises as an ironmonger, followed by George Lax Tucker in 1878 and Arthur Mulcock in 1883 in the same profession. It seems that Mulcock went into business with a Mr Symons, as Mulcock & Symons Tailors and Outfitters were trading at the address in 1891. The building was probably enlarged by T.W Harvey & Sons Ltd. An advertisement in 1955 gave details: T.W. Harvey & Sons. Building material merchants, builders and plumbers’ merchants. Ironmongers, Iron and Steel merchants. Showrooms 182 High Street for grates, stoves, boilers, sanitary ware, etc.
The Lower High Street building was later an electrical and gas appliance showroom, trading as Apollo 2000. When it closed the building lay empty for four years.
The Frog and Fiddle opened for invited guests on Saturday 23rd January 1999, and to the public the following Monday. It was an acquisition and conversion by Ash Vine Brewery in Somerset, their second Cheltenham pub. The Ash Vine Brewery already ran the Fish & Fiddle in Imperial Lane.Ash Vine Brewery ceased trading in 2001.
In February 2006 a chip pan caught fire in the kitchen of the Frog & Fiddle. Pub staff managed to douse out the flames. The fire brigade was called as a precaution and were just leaving when a fire-fighter noticed sparks coming from the pub’s ventilation system on the roof. They had to smash through the sloping roof to gain access to the ventilation system. Smoke was found to be billowing through the building and it took quarter of an hour to bring it under control. A 100 metre stretch of the Lower High Street from St Pauls Street South to the Ambrose Street junction was cordoned off by police. The station officer said: “We thought the whole thing could blow up. If it hadn’t been spotted we would have been putting out the whole building, not just the roof.” Three fire engines and sixteen officers tackled the blaze.
In May 2007 the leasehold interest of the Frog & Fiddle was up for sale for £150,000. It was described as a period three-storey property ‘which consists of a ground floor trading area with a large L-shaped main bar and servery and leads into a substantial sports bar, the Barn, which also benefits from a mezzanine level. Both areas contain many period features including beams, exposed stone-walls and polished wooden floors with traditional décor throughout. Live music is a big feature of the Frog in the Barn on Friday and Saturday nights. A pool room is arranged at first-floor level. To the rear of the building there are a number of additional rooms which are currently used for storage and offices.’
The Frog & Fiddle is one of few pubs in Cheltenham that continues to support live music of all genres. An initiative in 2009 was launched at the pub giving local artists the tools and advice they needed to break into the music industry. The facility was provided by the Gloucestershire Music Forum through funding from the Gloucestershire Arts Advisory Group. A record label, istartedthefire, specialising mainly in folk music was also launched. These days ‘live music’ venues invariably feature tribute artists or karaoke events, so to find real music being showcased in a pub is always commendable. Jim Lockey was a student at the University of Gloucestershire who formed his group Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun whilst in Cheltenham. In July 2010 the band previewed their debut album Atlases in the Frog & Fiddle to much acclaim. Other local bands to regularly perform at the Frog & Fiddle include The Last Taxi and Thrill Collins.
A controversial drinking game originating from America, the Beer Pong league, was launched at the Frog & Fiddle in February 2011. The ‘game’ involved throwing a ping pong ball across a table, aiming for ten cups filled with beer at the other end. Participants then took alternate goes at throwing. A successful throw would mean their opponent had to drink the beer. The basic aim was to eliminate your opponent’s cups by successfully landing a ping pong ball into them. More than 250 signed up for the drinking game, and battled it out to claim cash prizes, whilst trying to stay sober enough to keep a clear aim. An 18-year student from the University of Gloucestershire simply said, “It sounds like a lot of fun.” Anti-binge drinking campaigners described the game as ‘dangerous’ and police said that they would be monitoring the event closely. The event passed without incident. A spokesman from the Frog & Fiddle said: “Everyone got into the spirit of it and there were no problems at all. I think people now accept that Beer Pong is not dangerous. It’s just good fun.”
Butcombe Brewery have acquired the Frog & Fiddle. They also now run the Restoration in the High Street and the Royal Oak in Prestbury.