The park was substantially laid out for the Earl of Derby in the 1770s and changes made for John Burgoyne in the 1790s for the existing villa (built around 1750 for one Thomas Gosling). The fashionable landscape style was employed with trees forming a perimeter screen and placed in artful clumps to suggest a natural landscape. The house, which was partly rebuilt by Robert Taylor (architect) for John Burgoyne in 1775 and Robert Adam for the 12th Earl of Derby in 1790, was demolished between 1956 and 1960  but the bakehouse, stable block and some outbuildings remain. An archeological investigation was carried out by Carshalton and District History and Archeology Society in July 2009.
The estate lent its name to the Oaks horserace which was inaugurated by the Earl in 1779 and is run annually during the Derby meeting at Epsom Downs Racecourse, about 4 miles to the west. The original Oaks Race ran from Barrow Hedges, north of The Oaks and through Oaks Park before heading west to approximately the site of the current Epsom Downs Racecourse. Part of the off-road route still exists.
There is a public golf course and sports centre forming part of the open space. The park itself contains a craft centre, a café and a downland countryside walk.The Oaks Sport Centre has a public golf course and a new indoor climbing and caving centre.